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‘We don’t all survive’: Human trafficking survivor speaks out

1 week 1 day 20 hours ago Friday, January 14 2022 Jan 14, 2022 January 14, 2022 6:06 PM January 14, 2022 in News - Local

A new report from the Refugee Services of Texas shows human trafficking cases referred to their office here in the Valley more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.

“The RGV is important because a lot of people think that it doesn't happen close to home, but that's where our numbers proved that that's wrong,” Emily Rodriguez, community engagement coordinator with the non-profit, said.

Among the cases seen by the Refuge Services of Texas was that of Ana Maria, a Honduran national whose identity is being disguised for her and her daughter’s protection.

Ana Maria said she was a business owner who was forced to flee her country after cartel members demanded she pay their taxes.

“They came to my house...they threatened me with a gun,” she said. “They told me I had to pay because they knew what school my daughter was at.”

Ana Maria paid a coyote nearly $10,000 to arrive here.

“They tell you everything will be fine, that there won't be any danger on the trip, “Ana Maria recalled. “They promise you that."

After two months on the journey she arrived at the border where she was kidnapped by another group who demanded more money.

This is a common occurrence, Rodriguez said. 

“Sometimes people don't know that they're actually being trafficked,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the increase in demand for their survivor services is a worrying trend.

Ana Maria is warning those looking to make the same journey to think twice.

"I regret it and have asked my daughter for forgiveness because of the decisions we take as adults, our children don't know what's going to happen, and neither do we” Ana Maria said. “…If you don't have to make this journey, don't. We don't all survive."

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