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Part II: Escaping modern day slavery
FOX 4 News - by Leslie Rangel
Human sex trafficking is a problem in our community and authorities believe it's because Interstate ten runs right through Southeast Texas.
We introduced you to a victim we call Amy, who chose to conceal her identity out of fear.
Amy spent six years being forced into prostitution here in Beaumont on 11th street.
We learn how she was able to escape modern day enslavement.
Time and time again she tried to get out.
Not even a pregnancy helped.
"I just thought at first, this is my way out, but it wasn't, it still wasn't my way out, I went into labor while I was out there and I almost lost her, " Amy said.
Her child was born prematurely, weighing one pound and addicted to cocaine.
"She was a miracle because I almost lost her," Amy says.
Still the endless cycle continues.
"You have no choice about anything whatsoever and they take everything from you if you have any papers, drivers license they'll take everything," Lisa, an advocate with Harvest House Beaumont says.
She asked not to use her last name for fear of repercussions.
"Sometimes I'll get a call and I'll drop what I'm doing and I'll just go directly to where her location is," Lisa says.
She works along side police officers to help get girls out.
"It could be a simple traffic stop and by asking questions, you're going to find the stories don't match between the passenger and the driver, if our officers dig a little bit more, they probe more, you'll be surprised to what you can find," Officer Joe Ornelas says.
Ornelas teaches officers with the Beaumont Police Department to recognize signs of trafficking.
Both officers and advocates say Amy's story is not unlike thousands of others.
"She meets somebody that can help her with the problem by producing more drugs, then he asks for the favor," Officer Ornelas said.
"The main thing is when they come up to you and say I'll help you and they're nice and sweet, they're not, they're trying to trap you," Amy says.
A prostitution trap that's hidden behind closed doors.
"Of course we don't see it as much because it's just a clandestine crime, it's hidden, these people are kept in slavery, it's called modern day slavery," Officer Ornelas says.
For Amy, going to jail meant getting her out of that trap.
"Finally, I kept praying, I sat in the middle of 11th street for them to pick me and and that's what brought me out of it," Amy said.
After six years she was arrested for drug possession, her key to freedom.
"I said I just want to go home so they took me to jail," Amy said.
Today, Amy has been drug free for more than five years.
"I'm telling you my story to help somebody else, to let somebody else know there is a way out," Amy says.
A way out of a growing multi-billion dollar slave trade.
Amy is working on finding a job and going back to school to help support her child.
She says it's difficult to get hired with a felony drug charge on her record.
Every year, Governor Rick Perry pardons some trafficking victims.
Amy completed the pardoning application this month and is waiting to see if she'll be one of 24 selected.
To help locally, you can contact Harvest House Beaumont by visiting their page here: http://www.harvesthousebmt.com.
For national programs you can visit the Polly Klaas foundation.
If you are interested in holding a sex trafficking awareness class you can contact Beaumont Police department at 409-730-4434.