The Lookout (Investigative Journalist Steve Baker)

Last week, Steve Baker joined us live as he headed to Houston to begin an in-depth undercover investigation into a human trafficking operation apparently bringing children from the Texas border to Houston for what purpose or purposes can only be imagined at this point.
Yesterday afternoon I received the following Part One of his documentary of this very dangerous but very needed “look see.” This is the first part of his findings while there. We will continue to bring these to you as he shares.

We humbly ask for your prayers for Steve and those who he is working with in south Texas. Also, pray for these children who are “the least among us” but are also the “lost ones without hope, except for that received from God.”

Part One

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Yesterday was my intended last foray into the deepest part of the “Lost City Under the Bridges.” (h/t to TPC follower @Chinkle for that description.) Really, it’s a hidden area of homeless encampments — currently occupied, long abandoned, (and everything imaginable in between) — under the series of interstate bridges and off ramps leading into the northeast side of downtown Houston. This particular area along the Buffalo Bayou has large areas of literal jungle-like thickets and high brushes. It’s hard to say exactly how large an area this might be — either in acreage or distances from end-to-end — but even in the most inaccessible depths I was able to locate dozens of human camp sites. More likely, these are places to hide. For what reason, who knows? Fear? Flight? These are certainly not areas of shelter from the elements, as most of these human carveouts inside the bayou thickets are not even under the bridges. To hole up there means who are sharing your bed with the snakes, insects, torrential rains, heat, cold, and whatever else might crawl in with you.

My return to this location was to get even more clear and contrasting photography between the typical “adult” homeless encampments, and the area I believe contained the remaining evidence of where the unaccompanied immigrant children had been hiding. There were also more locations right along the bayou embankment itself, that I’d not previously scouted and where large numbers of people could literally disappear in broad daylight, if they so chose.

I’d already shot video of this side of the bayou embankment from the other side, during my previous trip to Houston. Even zooming in with my camera– from the other side — it is absolutely impossible to see signs of human occupation or refuse through the density of these jungle-like brushes. This day, on the bayou side of my current interest, accessing these areas of both human refuge and refuse required me to hack into them with a machete, but you could see how and from where the Lost City occupants had crawled in. Many apparently staying long enough to leave days-worth of waste and trash behind — even abandoned articles of clothing. Or, maybe they slither in and out each night, under cover of darkness, for days or weeks on end. Living like this is even far more unimaginable than life in the homeless encampments popularly photographed closer to civilization and right next to the Astros’ ballpark.

These mini-encampments along the bayou only offer shelter from someone else’s eyes. There is no other rationale to be there, except maybe because of some form of psychotic paranoia. But, the reason for purposefully choosing such deprivation and exposure to innumerable risks — from Mother Nature, herself, when far better shelter is available less than 100 yards away, under the bridges — is because you’re hiding from someone or something.

Google Maps
Google Maps: I-69, Hwy 59, I-10, Downtown Houston

On my hike down to a more accessible entry point to the bank of the bayou, and along the city’s paved Bike Trail of Death, I came upon a man who was obviously not homeless. He was standing under an overpass looking across the bayou at exactly the spot I wanted to drop down to the bayou’s edge. It was so loud from the speeding cars and trucks above, he couldn’t hear my approach, but you can hear me narrating on my chest-mounted GoPro about how similarly attired he was compared to myself. He too was wearing camo gear and swamp-appropriate boots. When I was only about 10 to 15 feet away, I startled him by calling out, “Are you looking for someone, too?”

He turned my direction and immediately respond, “No.” The first thing I noticed is that this Hispanic man was not a homeless person. His clothes were very clean. He’d not been sleeping on the ground. Those boots were expensive and new. His Astros ball cap had the “official” labels and hologram sticker under the brim. He then went into an explanation — difficult to understand through broken English and the traffic noice above — that he was there, “Praying for my family.” Intrigued, I engaged him more deeply in that story.

He told me his family was back in Mexico, and that he was here trying to get his “heart right with Jesus.” When I asked about where he was living, he hedged. (Hmmm.) He seemed to be choking up a bit when I asked about his current circumstances, just telling me that it was, “too hard.” When I asked if he had food, he said “Yes.” When I asked if he had a job, he hedged, again, turning his face away from me and offering up something unintelligible. (Uh-oh.) I then asked if he needed any money, and he gave me no answer.

For a quick moment I internally reviewed all the data points. Too many non sequiturs, but I decided to hand him some money. I even hesitated in that, because I knew I’d have to pull out my money clip . . . and I feared how he might respond. Would he graciously accept the gift, or lunge after me for the entire clip and whatever else I might be carrying? But . . . he’s not dirty. The clothing items he’s wearing are not handouts from some shelter. He’s wearing two watches. (One on each wrist. Hmmm.)

I hand him $20, which he momentarily hesitated to take . . . and then came the crocodile tears.

Instantly I knew his “praying,” “family,” “Jesus” story was a rehearsed act. Still, I quickly offered him some kind words of encouragement and left to proceed down the steep, rocky embankment toward the bayou’s edge. Then, as I began making my way laterally through the brush, I realized he was now following me, and watching from above. Through some of the thickest areas in which I was hacking my way — from each little hidden encampment to the next — I could look up and see through an opening that I was being watched. (My verbal narration to that effect was captured on my GoPro, several times.)

Screen grab from my GoPro
Screen grab from my GoPro

Some half hour later, I reached an area so dense I could no longer proceed forward without a willingness, (and the stamina), required to spend hours swinging my machete. The final deciding factor to turn back was made when I almost fell into a drainage culvert that was completely obscured by foilage growth. I’ve no idea whether the drop would have been six or sixteen feet, but you can hear the “Oh sh-t!” moment on video, as I barely recovered from a step that found no solid ground beneath.

I was still being followed from above, parallel to my movements below. Though I was now in an area where sight-lines were completely obscured, we were far enough away from the noisy overpass that when I stopped to listen, I could hear my shadow on the bike path above. According to the meta data on my camera, I reemerged from the brush about 14 minutes later, and it was only then that I realized this individual was the lookout for a large abandoned building there along the bike trail, with the fencing between the building and the bike path cut and pulled back, leading to a rear door with the glass busted out and slightly propped ajar. All other doors and windows were boarded up and the building was heavily ‘tagged.’

This time, the man was approaching me as I took a step through the fence line, narrating to my GoPro something to the effect of, I probably shouldn’t go through that door, unless I was willing to “take some Uzi fire.” Just before he got to my position, I stepped back onto the bike trail and away from that fence opening. He no longer displayed any pretense of the previously feigned heavy-hearted immigrant. He marched right past me without turning his head in my direction and took up position immediately in front of that gate opening. I asked, “Is there anyone in that building?” Without hesitation he responded, “No. There’s nobody.”

How could he know that, and also be so sure? It’s a very large, abandoned commercial building of some sort, with razor wire on some exterior steps, and he’s just out on a stroll, praying to Jesus about his family. Right? This man who I’d given $20 to only a half-hour-ish prior, will now not even look at me, and keeps his face turned away from me as he takes position in front of that fence opening.

Photo from my iPhone shows purple door that was busted and ajar

I knew right then, it was time for me to go, and quickly. I have no idea if — while I was hacking through the jungle — he made phone call. I never saw him produce a phone, (or a weapon), but just before I began briskly walking back toward the major juncture of highway overpasses, you can hear my video narration, “He’s patroling that building. I need to drop a pin right here.” I turned and did just that, then got the hell out of Dodge.

Pin drop while The Lookout watches me

Later that evening I met for several hours with the sex trafficking investigator and recovery specialist who’s been consulting me. He says the most likely scenario is that the building is being used to run drugs. Day or night, it’s easily accessible to dealers and customers, alike, and the cops simply don’t go down there. I’ve now made numerous excursions into The Lost City, and have never seen law enforcement in the area — at any hour. On the other side of the bayou, I once saw a pick-up truck with “Houston Fire Department” markings pull down onto the Bike Trail of Death. It looked like a maintenance vehicle. I assumed the two occupants were simply looking for a private location to smoke some weed, but once they saw me, they made a quick exit. That’s the only sign of interest I’ve seen from any city agency in that area.

Drug distribution being the most likely usefulness for that building, it is in fact quite large, and could temporarily hide a large number of illegal immigrants, children, or otherwise. Easily a couple hundred, or more, and I can definitively show exactly how and where they could make their way through the brushes, right past the homeless encampments, and emerge looking for the food being handed out in the midnight hour by a ladies ministry group.

The investigator examined my pin drop and found a parking deck about a quarter mile away, with a possible direct sightline to that abandoned building. That’s where I’ll be later tonight.

*Special Note: I’ve decided to be more explicit with the ongoing details of my investigation, except where someone’s else’s privacy or safety might be of concerned. (Obviously, I’ll protect the identity of confidential sources.) As to the concerns of “blowing my cover” or that of my own safety . . . the bad guys are not following my blog. But, the alleged good guys are. It’s time for them to be doing what I am doing, and they need to be doing what that private investigator is doing for them . . . rather than allocating the resources to chase down and imprison a cancer-stricken, 69-year old grandma who did nothing more than carry a Trump flag through a door opened for her by Capitol Police, themselves. I’m angry right now — more than ever — with local, so-called Serve & Protect agencies and all the federal 3-Letter agencies who are declaring Constitution-honoring, average Americans to be “domestic terrorists,” because . . . A) they didn’t vote the correct way, or . . . B) they spoke out against sexual “grooming” of their children at a public school board meeting. That, while I have personally witnessed actual human SLAVERY on the streets of America’s fourth largest city, and personally documented the evidence of immigrant child trafficking in the same town.

Shining the light on this situation will protect me, and the more of you who know what I’m doing, the safer I’ll be. Besides, taking me out will only draw more attention toward those who don’t want that spotlight aimed in their direction — regardless of which team they play for. And . . . I’m not alone. They’d have to take us all out, and that’s not going to happen.


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