Updated: Jan 19, 2011 11:47 AM ES
There have been a handful of human trafficking cases in the Coastal Bend, most notably a 14-year-old girl found working in a Corpus Christi strip club. Experts say it's a growing problem.
Sergeant Tracy Williams with the Attorney General's Office drove in from Austin to educate the group about how they can recognize and help victims. Sergeant Williams first explained the difference between trafficking and smuggling. People who are smuggled are willingly breaking the law trying to get into this country, while people who are trafficked are victims, forced to work or perform sexual acts against their will.
Trafficking victims are often beaten, tortured, and sexually assaulted.
Sergeant Williams spoke about a recent incident in San Marcus Texas, where twenty immigrants were found stuffed into a trailer wearing only underwear. They were held captive while their families continually sent money, from other countries, to the traffickers. When they were found, law enforcement was overwhelmed with their care. If an incident like this should occur in our region, the newly formed coalition says they hope to step in and help.
Sergeant Williams says trafficking is more common in Texas than any other state. More than 500 victims were reported in three and a half year period.