Fifteen women were rescued from a human-trafficking ring on Tuesday morning after an aggravated assault was investigated at a house on Marcell Avenue in Dallas in April.
After the assault report, the Dallas Police Department said they received a tip that detailed prostitution and possible human trafficking happening at the house, the department said.
They later identified the suspected leader — Tremont Blakemore, 39.
“Blakemore was found to be the head of a large-scale prostitution organization operating in the North Texas region,” the department said. “Blakemore and this group has been tied to prostitution activity in multiple cities in Texas and throughout the nation. The victims he has trafficked for the purposes of prostitution come from as far away as Maine, Wyoming and Montana.”
He routinely kept a group of about 20 women whom he sold for profit, police said. However, Dallas police suspect he has controlled and manipulated more than a hundred women.
The difference between prostitution and human trafficking is that prostitution involves one person who willingly exchanges sex for money. In sex trafficking, a commercial sex act takes place through force, fraud or coercion by a trafficker, according to experts.
Victims are normally targeted between ages 12 and 16, according to a 2015 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics authored by Dr. Jordan Greenbaum and Dr. James E. Crawford-Jakubiak.
On Tuesday morning, Dallas police with SWAT, Dallas police Special Investigations Division detectives, Dallas police fugitive detectives, investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety CID/THP, special agents with the FBI along with the Fort Worth and Lancaster police departments, executed search warrants at the following houses associated with Blakemore:
- 12405 Yellow Wood Drive, Fort Worth
- 4529 Marcell Ave., Dallas
- 1786 Overlook Drive, Lancaster
At the house on Yellow Wood, investigators found 11 women. Four additional women were found at the Overlook Drive house.
The women were all provided opportunities for counseling and other services targeted at helping victims of human trafficking.
Two boys — ages 2 and 9 months — were also removed from the Yellow Wood Drive home and placed into foster care.
Those arrested at the Fort Worth house include: Blakemore, Donna Gonzales, 38; and Peaches Hurtado, 26; all on charges of aggravated promotion of prostitution and engaging in organized criminal activity.
Gonzalez and Blakemore were held on a $500,000 bond and Hurtado was held on a $400,000 bond.
At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Blakemore and Hurtado were still listed as inmates in the Dallas County jail. Gonzales was not.
Police are looking for a fourth co-conspirator.
Blakemore was arrested in Tarrant County in 2007 on a charge of evading arrest. At that time, his address was listed in the 1000 block of Mill Crossing in Arlington, according to records.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Dallas police High-Risk Victims Unit Detective Paulson at 214 671-4217.