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Sting brings to light multiple issues

A prostitution and human trafficking sting operation in The Colony resulted in some unexpected dividends last week and we salute the law enforcement agencies involved.

Lt. Darren Brockway of The Colony Police Department said the Denton County Sheriff’s Office approached him the first week of July for assistance in the sting. His department provided undercover officers and perimeter surveillance at a hotel on State Highway 121.

Roughly a dozen women from across the Dallas-Fort Worth area were picked up during the operation, officials said.

We are not naive enough to believe that such stings actually make much of a dent in the numbers of people who make profit from prostitution, and we realize that those who practice the world’s oldest profession are not strangers to locations along State Highway 121 and other parts of the area.

But there are those unexpected dividends we mentioned.

One of the operation’s goals was to identify juveniles who had been trafficked in the sex industry. Three of those arrested so far are teenagers, and Sheriff’s Office officials said they expect the ongoing investigation to yield more arrests.

One of the women taken into custody reached out for lifestyle counseling assistance, which sounds like a positive development to us. Officials call that contact a “rescue,” and we certainly hope they are right, although we realize that it will take a lot more than one request for help to change a life.

Another unexpected dividend came the day after the first set of arrests, Brockway said. An operation aimed at catching clients or “johns” was conducted in the same area, and 14 men were arrested.

Eight of those arrested had entered the United States illegally and are now subject to deportation. Three of those detainees had felony criminal histories, including one from the Denton area, according to law officers.

Homeland Security Investigations also took part in the two-day operation, and Brockway told us that he hopes the sting will bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking and how serious it has become.

Most trafficking isn’t on street corners any longer, Brockway pointed out, but on “cyber streets.” Exploitation is just a computer click away.

Most of us of have been warned repeatedly about such cyberspace dangers and many parents are vigilant about monitoring their children’s computer activity. We don’t want our kids exposed to anyone who deals in such matters, even electronically.

The young people in this case, however, are already involved in something beyond their control, and we can’t imagine the type of life they have been forced to live. But we can hope that they get the encouragement and support they need to find a better way of life.

Perhaps, because of this sting and others like it, some of these people will be helped.

We can’t let the pervasive nature of such problems prevent us from trying to find solutions.