Houston has become 'ground zero for sex trafficking': officials

Tom Abrahams Image
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
City officials work together to combat trafficking
City officials work together to combat trafficking

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of the 15-year-old sex trafficking victim says her story has spread awareness about sex trafficking in Houston.

Letty Serrano's story has been shared all over the world after she died by suicide on Oct. 12.

RELATED: 'We got her back damaged': Sex trafficked 15-year-old dies by suicide

Serrano was allegedly lured away, drugged and sold to sex traffickers at just 13 years old.

The family told ABC13 they laid their loved one to rest on Monday knowing that she couldn't stand the pain and struggle her life had become.

Officials say the man who is suspected of sex trafficking the teen has been in and out of jail, but never charged for trafficking Serrano.

During a joint press conference on Tuesday, Crime Stoppers, Houston's police chief and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg all mentioned Serrano's case.

"Houston is ground zero for human trafficking," said Ogg. "Law enforcement, the district attorney's office and a lot of community providers are really trying to paradigm for sex workers, sex buyers and most importantly sex traffickers."

One of those people trying to make a difference is Jennifer Herring, who works for the Harris County jail as the program manager for reentry services.

SEE MORE: Family of sex trafficked 15-year-old hopes her death saves others

"We are in a community full of women who are being trafficked," Herring said. 'We're here as a voluntary program to help these women get away from this life, but more-so gain personal power."

She said the pimps themselves are getting younger, and using social media to lure girls from their homes. The program educates women, offers therapy and gives them resources in and outside of jail so they don't slide back into the world of sex trafficking.

"What we're doing is making those connections, which is really critical for women to stay alive and become the women they were created to be," Herring said.