Dallas' Sex Trade is Worth $100 Million, Report Says
The underground sex economy in Dallas, you probably won't be surprised to know, is thriving. Not thriving quite like the local trade in drugs ($191 million per year) or guns ($171 million), but it's substantial, pulling in an estimated $98.9 million per year.
That's at least the figure reached in a Justice Department-sponsored study -- The New York Times calls it a "landmark" -- released today by the Urban Institute, which examined prostitution and sex trafficking in eight American cities.
The report is probably most compelling for the granular look it gives at each city's sex trade, based on statistical analysis and interviews with cops, pimps and prostitutes.
In Dallas, the cheapest sex work is found in poor, drug-infested neighborhoods, where crack or meth addicts sell themselves for as little as $5 or $10. One step up the chain are the street-level pimps, who gross an average of $12,000 per week from girls working street corners and the Internet. These comprise the majority of Dallas' sex market.
The profile of your average pimp has shifted slightly over the past couple of decades, the report says. In the '90s, they were easily identifiable by their clothes and cars and often held "pimp parties." That's no longer the case, though they are still typically black men, 25 to 30 years old, who often learned their trade from a father or uncle.
They generally have a handful of girls, upon whom they impose a strict daily quota. According to one Dallas cop the researchers interviewed:
$1,000 a day [quota]--doesn't matter how you got it--as long as you got it. So these girls were stealing, and that's where prostitution encompasses all aspects of crime because a girl's got to make a grand, it doesn't matter how she does it. So they take watches, so two or three girls, two of 'em are robbing him and the other ones are going through the [truck] and taking all the stuff out of there--they get an ATM card. You've got the robberies, you've got the burglaries, you've got the personal thefts, all these part one offenses surrounding this one issue.
Some pimps stick with adults as a way to minimize their chances of being busted. Others are less scrupulous about age. According to another law enforcement official:
For some, they need the grooming process, I think that our society changes ... but if you get a runaway from the West End, you give her a place to stay, you give her some food, you [get her to turn in] two days. ...
One of the other things is the Myspace, and MocoSpace. Believe it or not, people still use them, and the ones that are using them are usually younger, and pimps are on there like crazy. We just had one two weeks ago, that we got a call from [police department] and when we interviewed the girl, she took the laptop and opened it up, showed us, and there she was taking self-pictures of her in her thong and a little top on and I'm like, "Ok, and who put these on?" She says, "Oh I did." She goes, "Yeah, this is a hook-up site." That's what she was using as a hook-up site. So that's another way that they're getting them. They'll befriend them, it's glorified now to be a pimp, you look at the TV shows, "Pimp my Ride." Pimp this, pimp, it's in songs, everything is pimp, pimp, pimp, and so when these guys do that, you've got these screwed up girls who don't know any better and they'll think that it's cool and they'll hang out with them, and they'll start smoking with them and after that they'll say, "Oh you want to try it?" "Yeah, I'll try it."