HOUSTON (CNN Newsource) — A family is asking for justice after a young girl, who was the victim of sex-trafficking, took her own life.
Letty Serrano turned 15 in May. Her family says she couldn’t live with her pain after going missing when she was 13.
“I wish we would have done more for her. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean the city. Us as a community,” said Cynthia Rivera, her grandmother.
Letty was found drugged and abused in a park in 2017.
“She was taken by an older man. She was drugged. Her story is that she was abused by different men,” Rivera said.
The family wants justice and they want to spread awareness about how common sex trafficking of young women is in Houston.
Her father said Letty was a different person after she went missing and he wants the men who did this to her to go to jail.
“It is a very familiar story, unfortunately,” said Micah Gamboa, executive director of Elijah Rising.
Elijah Rising is an anti-trafficking non-profit that finds, counsels, and helps rehabilitate sex trafficking victims.
Though they didn’t know Letty personally, they’ve heard stories like hers.
Gamboa says there are tens of thousands of trafficking victims in Houston and over 300,000 in texas.
“Entire cities are becoming red-light districts. It’s no longer just a centralized, isolated issue. It’s actually spreading across the nation,” Gamboa said.
They say suicide is common among sex trafficking victims.
In Letty’s case, the man likely responsible for dragging her into the trade will never face charges for it.
“We see in Houston, a lot of times these pimps and these traffickers get off with just a misdemeanor or maybe deferred adjudication,” Gamboa said.
She says the laws aren’t strong enough and better legislation is needed but most importantly what will help girls and women like Letty is awareness.