Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Help Combat Human Trafficking

Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez:

National Human Trafficking Prevention Month is observed in January. It serves as an opportunity to unite efforts against human trafficking, raise awareness, and mobilize communities to take action.

Houston is considered a major hub for human trafficking due to its size, diverse population, and proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. Texas consistently has the second-highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline every year.

HCSO is fully committed to combating Human Trafficking. Our top priority is rescuing victims utilizing a trauma-informed approach with the ultimate goal of eliminating and reducing re-victimization.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking affects both adults and children, men and women, and people from all parts of Harris County, Texas, the United States, and around the world.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain labor or commercial sex acts. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked. It can happen in any community, and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use the following methods to lure victims into trafficking situations:

  • Violence
  • Manipulation
  • False promises of well-paying jobs
  • Romantic relationships

Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.

What is the Harris County Sheriff’s Office doing to end human trafficking?

HCSO Human Trafficking Unit investigators play a critical role in identifying and combating these horrific cases that often victimize our most vulnerable neighbors.

Our agency conducts proactive investigations and participates in multi-partner operations, where we locate victims based on intelligence that we have developed.

HCSO also has a crime victim’s assistance unit and victim advocates for specialized crimes. The advocates for the human trafficking unit accompany the deputies to make contact with victims as soon as possible. And they can assist in connecting people to a myriad of resources, including financial, medical, legal, and more.

We work with organizations in our community to collaborate on solutions, from intervention and crisis planning to locating shelters or referrals. Even if someone feels that they aren’t ready or have to plan to get out safely, they can reach out to our advocates for that help.

Also, the Sheriff’s Office is a proud member of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, a regional task force aimed at identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking. The task force is made up of local, state, and federal agencies and combines resources to target human traffickers and connect victims of all forms of human trafficking, including labor and sex trafficking, to victims’ services.

Human Trafficking is a pervasive issue that affects communities worldwide, and we believe that awareness is a crucial step towards prevention. Join Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for a Facebook Live to raise awareness about Human Trafficking next Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 11 a.m. via our Facebook page.

How can you help us stop human trafficking?

The community plays a crucial role in the fight against human trafficking. Here are some actions you can take to contribute to the fight against human trafficking:

  • Be Informed: Learn about the signs of human trafficking and understand how traffickers operate. Knowledge is crucial for recognizing potential cases and taking appropriate action.
  • Raise Awareness: Use your voice to raise awareness about human trafficking. Share information on social media, organize events and engage in conversations to educate others about the issue.
  • Support Anti-Trafficking Organizations: Contribute to or volunteer with organizations dedicated to combating human trafficking. These organizations support survivors, conduct awareness campaigns, and work on prevention and advocacy.
  • Be Vigilant in Your Community: Stay alert to unusual or suspicious activities in your community, especially in places like hotels, bars, or transportation hubs. Report anything you find concerning to the appropriate authorities.
  • Be Mindful of Online Activities: Be cautious and aware of online activities, especially on social media. Traffickers often use online platforms to recruit victims. Report any suspicious online behavior to the appropriate authorities.

Collective efforts from the public are essential to creating a world free from human trafficking.

How to report human trafficking or suspicious activity?

  • In an emergency, dial 911.

Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

We stand together with those who are being trafficked, survivors, and the many advocates in our region whose mission is to end human trafficking for all. Together, we can stop human trafficking. If you see something, say something.

Watch: HCSO 2023 Top Social Media Posts

A recap of HCSO’s most popular social media posts in 2023. Thank you to our followers for engaging with us. We look forward to keeping you informed and connected in 2024!

HCSO In The News

KHOU: ‘He gave me a lot of holiday cheer’ | Harris County inmates open Christmas gifts with their children

Forty children were reunited with their mothers for a holiday surprise this Christmas season. Their mothers are serving time at the Harris County Women’s Empowerment Center. For one mom, it was exactly what she needed to get a bit of peace. “He gave me a lot of holiday cheer,” said Ikea Lane about seeing her son, Daveon McGregor.

ABC 13: Charges filed against 18-wheeler driver at center of hours long SWAT standoff on I-10 East Fwy

The man accused of being behind the wheel of a semi-truck that stopped in the middle of the I-10 East Freeway last week has been charged. The video above is from a previous report. Trinidad Cutshall was charged with evading arrest and detention in a motor vehicle. Records show that the charges were filed on Dec. 30, days after the Harris County Sheriff’s Office identified Cutshall as the driver at the center of the dramatic standoff.

Congratulations to our new Detention Officers

Congratulations to our new Detention Officers on their graduation! We are proud of your hard work and dedication. Thank you for your commitment to serving and protecting.

Join our team! Visit HCSOJobs.com or call 713-877-5250 to apply today!

Multi-Agency Joint New Year’s DWI Initiative

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office joined forces with multiple agencies for the New Year’s holiday weekend to crack down on drunk drivers across the county.

Harris County historically has had the highest number of fatal crashes related to DWI. We appreciate our deputies’ hard work and all the agencies involved.

Let’s welcome 2024 with joy, responsibility, and a collective dedication to keeping our roads free from impaired driving.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office! We wish you a safe and prosperous 2024 filled with peace and happiness.

You are not alone, we are here to help you

Last month, the HCSO Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) responded at a freeway bridge off of SH 99 and I-10 to an individual experiencing suicidal thoughts. CIRT assisted and got the individual the appropriate resources. If you need assistance call 988 or 713-970-7000.

Investigators Need Your Help in Locating Suspect and Vehicle Used in East Harris County Murder

We need your help in identifying murder suspects and their vehicle after a road rage incident that occurred on November 19, 2023, in east Harris County.

Twenty-one-year-old Angel Muniz-Acosta died of his injuries, and a 21-year-old female passenger was not injured. The suspects’ vehicle is a silver-colored 4-door sedan.

Anyone with information call the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit at 713-274-9100 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477). Click here to read the release.

Who Killed Malachi Lopez: Investigators Need Public’s Help

Help HCSO Investigators find the murderer of Malachi Lopez. The victim’s photo is shown above. On November 18, 2023, the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office responded to a shooting at the Cashel Springs Apartments located at 14222 Wunderlich in north Harris County. When deputies arrived, they located 20-year-old Malachi Lopez, who had suffered a gunshot wound. Lopez was transported to a hospital in critical condition and died the following day.

The HCSO Homicide Unit took over the case. Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Homicide Office at 713-274-9100 or Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477). Click here to read the release.

Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez – Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Wishes Everyone Happy Holidays!

Visit the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Homepage

Message from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez:

During the holiday season, we must pause and reflect on the positive aspects of our lives and the true meaning of the festivities. The kindness and determination demonstrated by many community members this year are truly remarkable. As we celebrate Christmas and the holidays, I would like to express my appreciation for your continued support.

Some of our teammates will work through the holidays, sacrificing time spent with their loved ones. Our job never stops, and I’m grateful for those who serve and protect our residents with honor and courage.

I hope everyone enjoys time with their loved ones. We’re grateful for your readership and partnership and wish you and yours a restful and joyous holiday! Stay safe.

Spreading Holiday Cheer: Harris County Sheriff’s Office Joins Shop with a Cop Program

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office joined the Shop with a Cop program this holiday season. This heartwarming initiative brought joy, built positive relationships, and created lasting memories between law enforcement officers and the youth in our community.

This program spread holiday cheer by allowing children to shop for gifts alongside law enforcement officers using donated gift cards valued up to $200. It’s a festive occasion that brings smiles and warmth to all involved.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office began a partnership with Macy’s August 2022 and with Target this year. However, we have participated in various Shop with Cop events with other organizations over the past several years.

HCSO participated in eight Shop with a Cop events this holiday season. The last Shop with a Cop was with eight essay contest winners!

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the opportunity to participate in programs like Shop with a Cop. Together, we can make the holiday season brighter for the children in our community and foster a spirit of unity.

Celebrate Responsibly!

In the spirit of the holidays, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office encourages the community to celebrate responsibly. Never drink and drive!

HCSO wants to emphasize the importance of responsible and safe holiday celebrations. Our community’s well-being is a collective effort, which means making responsible choices, and planning ahead about how you will get home before you start drinking.

Drinking and driving jeopardizes not only your safety but the safety of others on the road. This season, let’s prioritize the welfare of our loved ones, neighbors, and fellow community members.

  • Designate a Sober Driver: Plan and designate a sober driver if you’ll be consuming alcohol.
  • Use Rideshare Services: Take advantage of rideshare services or public transportation to ensure a safe journey home.
  • Encourage Responsible Choices: Remind friends and family to make responsible choices and avoid driving under the influence.
  • Report Suspected Drunk Drivers: If you observe someone driving erratically, immediately report it to 911 or 713-221-6000.
  • Plan Alternative Transportation: Have a backup plan for getting home that doesn’t involve driving under the influence.

By making responsible choices, we can collectively contribute to a safer and happier holiday season. Thank you for being a trustworthy and caring member of our community. Let’s ensure this holiday season is filled with joy, warmth, and safety.

WATCH: Tips To Prevent Auto Theft During the Holiday Season

Lt. John Gonzalez from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Division provides car burglary prevention tips for the holiday season.

WATCH: Protecting Your Packages

As we enjoy the holidays, it’s important to be vigilant and protect your packages from porch pirates. The HCSO Burglary and Theft Unit is sharing valuable tips to help safeguard your packages and ensure a secure holiday. Call 713-221-6000 to report stolen packages.

HCSO In The News

KHOU: HCSO releases video, photos of vehicle involved in deadly road rage shooting

Law enforcement agencies are joining forces to put the brakes on reckless driving following the increase in injuries and fatalities involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Sheriff Ed Gonzales said this year in Harris County, 57 auto-pedestrian collisions resulted in a total of 60 pedestrian deaths. In 2022, there were 53 such accidents resulting in 53 deaths, and in 2021, 46 crashes killed 48 people. “The number of auto-pedestrian fatalities keeps increasing year after year. This is a major concern for us,” said Sheriff Gonzalez.

Click2Houston: Harris County Jail moving to digital mail system to cut down on contraband

A recent investigation by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office highlights an ongoing effort to cut down on contraband smuggled into jails and prisons via paper correspondence. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the county is in the final stages of setting up a digital mail system in the jail. Houston attorney Ronald Lewis, 77, was recently charged with bringing paper soaked in synthetic marijuana and ecstasy into the jail. He is charged with two felonies of bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility. Lewis’ attorney has not yet returned a call to KPRC 2 for comment.

The HCSO Elf on the Shelf – Deputy Elfington – Farewell and Gratitude

As the holiday season comes to a close, Deputy Elfington is returning to the North Pole to assist Santa for next year’s festivities.

He wants to thank our community, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for the warm welcome and festive spirit shared throughout his stay.

“It has been a joyous adventure filled with community events, safety initiatives, meeting great teammates, and spreading holiday cheer,” said Deputy Elfington. “Thank you for being an amazing community, and until next time, happy holidays and a fantastic new year!”

Deputy Elfington joined a patrol training in north Harris County with Deputy Priscilla Leos, who joined HCSO in 2012 as a detention officer.

She became a deputy in 2017. Deputy Leos has been assigned to District 2 Patrol since 2019.

Deputy Elfington, trained with the HCSO Motorcycle Unit!

Elfington joined Deputy Victor Garcia, an accident investigator.

Deputy Garcia joined HCSO in 2013; since 2014, he’s been part of our Vehicular Crimes Division.

Deputy Elfington went to the Harris County Jail to assist with the mail project to keep our teammates and those in our custody safe. Detention Officers Zanquess Cavett and Peyton Anderson processed inmate mail.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office established the jail-based Criminal Investigations and Security Division in response to a substantial increase in drug overdoses in the jail. The safety of our teammates and those in our custody is our priority.

Deputy Elfington also went to the HCSO Emergency Dispatch Center and helped Communication Officer Charles Kintz with calls.

Communication Officer Kintz began his career at HCSO in 2008. He’s enthusiastic about his role and takes pride in helping his community.

Deputy Elfington also trained with K9 Timon, our paw enforcement partner.

K9 Timon is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois certified in patrol and narcotics and works with his handler, Deputy Clayton.

After work, Elfington took K9 Timon to get a Puppuccino to celebrate a successful training day! Thanks to K9 Timon and Deputy Clayton for protecting our community.

Deputy Elfington trained with the HCSO SWAT Team and learned basic tactical operations from Deputy Kenneth Sandor.

Deputy Sandor joined HCSO in 2013 as a patrol deputy in District 3 in east Harris County. He joined the HCSO SWAT team in 2015 and is one of the team’s Marksman.

In Memory of K9 Ziko

We are sad to report the passing of our beloved K9 Ziko.

K9 Ziko was an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois who recently retired and assisted with numerous narcotics arrests and criminal apprehensions. K9 Ziko worked with Sgt. Moore since November 2014 and was part of HCSO SWAT since 2016.

Sgt. Moore and Ziko shared a unique bond. Ziko’s recent retirement allowed him to enjoy a well-deserved rest, surrounded by the love and care of Sgt. Moore and his family.

Ziko served with unwavering loyalty and dedication. His presence will be sorely missed, and his memory will forever live on in the hearts of those privileged to work alongside him. Thanks to K9s4COPs for their support.

We extend our deepest condolences to Sgt. Moore, his family, and those who worked with him.

In honor of K9 Ziko’s service, bravery, and friendship, we express our gratitude for his indelible mark on HCSO and the community he served.

May you rest in peace, faithful companion. Thank you for your service.

Harris County Sheriff’s Office Teammate of the Week

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office highlight teammates who go above and beyond their normal duties to serve others. We receive positive commendations daily from the community describing positive impacts.

“I want to pause and recognize one of your outstanding officers and his commitment to excellence and exceeding expectations! Sgt. Ernie McNabb has worked in our district, northwest Harris County, for over ten years. As soon as I reported to him that we were getting slammed with community mailbox thefts, he immediately engaged and continued checking the cluster boxes during his patrols,” said a Harris County resident.

“He rolled up on a suspect at the mailboxes with the trunk of the vehicle opened and holding a crowbar in his hand. The suspect fled, but Sgt. McNabb got him identified, and the U.S. Postal Inspector was delighted to get this piece of the puzzle to bring their evidence on this ring to charges filed! The suspects were caught with stolen mail and counterfeit mailbox keys. Sheriff Gonzalez, our District is extremely pleased with the work and efforts of Sgt. McNabb and we would like to request that he receive the Highest Commendation that you can give! Thank you!”

Sergeant McNabb began his law enforcement career in 1993. He transferred to HCSO from the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office seven years ago. He currently serves as a night shift Sergeant in District 2 in north Harris County.

Holiday Food Distribution

‘Tis the season of giving, and we are delighted to invite you to join the Blue Christmas Food Distribution Event organized by Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and the Asian American Peace Officers’ Association.

The event is scheduled for Friday, December 22, 2023, at 2 p.m. at the HCSO Tomball Substation, 23828 Tomball Parkway, Tomball, TX 77375. We will be giving away frozen turkeys along with sides. The food will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. We hope to see ya’ll there!