Human Trafficking in Houston: Magazine Crews

cropped-image-12-2.jpegAmanda J. Seymour, Th.M. Deeper Love

My Story

Through the years, young adults have approached me in a grocery store parking lot and asked me to buy a magazine subscription.  Something did not feel right, so I always said no.  One afternoon, a young adult came to my door and asked me to purchase a magazine subscription. I noticed he was on-foot.  I wondered where his car was and why he was walking around our off-the-beaten-path neighborhood.

I asked him where he lived.  He said his grandma lived on the main road and he was visiting her.  I asked her name.  When he told me, I knew we did not have anyone in our neighborhood by that name.  I kept wondering what he was really up to.  I felt like something was wrong.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.

When he asked me to purchase a magazine subscription, I told him no thank you, I was not interested, and asked him to not come by again.  He asked again.  He seemed desperate to make a sale.

After he left, I still had a feeling something was not right.  That evening, I went to dinner with a friend.  When my friend dropped me off at home, I had an ominous feeling.  I didn’t know why.  I went to my room and got ready for bed.

All of a sudden, a white car drove very slowly down my driveway.  A cold chill went up my spine.  “Who is here?” I wondered.

The car blocked my car in the driveway.  A young adult girl got out and stonily walked to the front door.  I saw her through the glass.  Her eyes were wide and glazed.  “Is Dameon there?” she asked.

She was wearing a fur coat and mini skirt.  Yet it was 80 degrees outside.  I told her, “No one named Dameon lives here.  You need to go now.  I have called the police.  They are on their way.  And I am going to get my gun!  You better leave NOW!”

Very mechanically with wide eyes, she said, “But I have a baby in the car.”  I didn’t believe her.  She was very stiff.  Her body language was not convincing.  She turned around and stiffly walked to her car, almost robotically.

I watched her walk to the car.  As the car drove away, I saw another person driving the car.  It was the silhouette of the magazine crew guy who came to my house earlier that day.  Had he come to case my house?  Was he coming back to rob me?  I wondered.

I wanted to make sense of what was happening.   So I prayed and then sat down to the computer and started researching.  I found the following articles which are included below.

They shed light on what magazine crews are about and how they work.  I was surprised to learn they are another form of human trafficking, labor trafficking, and the recruiters lure vulnerable young adults into mag crews by giving them promises of an exciting career with travel, fun and good pay.

A Typical Ad

A typical ad looks like this:

All-Star Promotions Recruiting Ad

ADVENTURE TRAVEL: New York, Philly, Florida. Are you: 18 years of age or older? Free to travel to exciting cities and resort areas? Motivated, outgoing & witty? Exciting US firm has 10 immediate openings for sharp guys and gals to work in a fun co-ed environment! We offer 2 two week paid training. Transportation furnished, return guaranteed! For an interview for this great opportunity don’t delay – call Miss Jenkins toll free today: 1-866-686-0037 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

http://edumacation.com/AllStarPromotions

This ad was taken from All-Star Promotions, a magazine crew sales organization that recruited lots of young adults to sell magazines door-to-door across the nation but did not fulfill the subscriptions.

Mag crews target young adults who are looking for a job with good pay, adventure, and fun.  They often target young adults working at McDonalds or other fast food restaurants and students.

Once they recruit the young people, they lure them into being trafficked by giving them drugs, alcohol and treating them harshly with violence and threats.  They drive sales people from state to state.  And they do not pay them well.  In fact, they hardly pay them at all.  And the young people become desperate and sometimes try to commit robberies.  I saw all of these symptoms the night the magazine crew came to my house.  And once I learned the truth about “Mag Crews”, I was deeply saddened to know these schemes are out there.  If someone is trying to recruit you for door-to-door sales and you feel like something isn’t quite right, don’t fall for it!

Articles

To learn more, read these articles:

“Human Trafficking; Mag Crew Kid At Your Door Could Be Victim” Al Jazeera http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/2/24/human-trafficking-victim-mag-crew-kid-at-door.html

“Trapped Into Selling Magazines Door-to-Door” – The Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/04/trapped-into-selling-magazines-door-to-door/388601/

“Sales Crews, Peddling & Begging Rings” – National Human Trafficking Resource Center https://traffickingresourcecenter.org/labor-trafficking-venuesindustries/sales-crews-peddling-begging-rings

“For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews” – The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/us/21magcrew.html?_r=0

MagCrew Movie

http://www.magcrew.com/