SPECIAL REPORT: Enslaved in Texas
POSTED: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 11:48am
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 4:58pm
Tyler, TX (KETK) — "We dated for a couple weeks he told me he was going to take me out of state to meet his parents."
Chong Kim, a victim of sex trafficking, explains her story or slavery. She recalls being a young teenage girl, who fell in love. But when she left Dallas and went to Oklahoma, there were no parents for her to meet.
Kim says, "First I was held at an abandoned house, handcuffed to a door knob, and was beat and raped and broken down,” she became a sex slave from 1994 to 1997. Kim was drugged and taken to a motel, everyday. Kim explains, “That's where we had to service the men. We were raped, we were beat, we were sodomized, we were tortured,” and she wasn't the only one. Kim says there were hundreds of girls and boys, of all ages; their bodies being sold for sex.
Kim says, “The youngest that i witnessed being trafficked was a 7 year old girl named "Mia,” Kim tried to run away, but she says, her pimp would always find her.
She explains, “When I did run away I was held like on a meat hook, and they would hit me. They busted both my knee sockets, they grabbed my arm and twisted it all the way back til’ this day I can't raise my arm, I have a scar on my shoulder there was just no way to get out, if they didn't threaten us, they would threaten our families, people we cared about."
After two years Kim finally escaped the shackles of sex slavery, some of the film (in the video above) is from the movie "Eden" the true-life story of Chong Kim, and what happened to her is happening right here in East Texas.
Nicholas Sensley is a former LAPD officer, he now works for Humanity United in Washington, DC, he has dedicated most of his life to end human trafficking. He says, “It can happen and it does happen everywhere….this is a form of contemporary and modern day slavery."
Sensley says an estimated 100 thousand American children are exploitated in the U.S. each year—2.4 million are trafficked worldwide each year.
Like Chong Kim, some are lured into slavery; or, some run away from home, and fall into it.
Shawn McGraw from the department of Homeland Security Investigations in Dallas explains,"When a run away minor gets on the street, statistics show they have about 2 or three days worth of money to support themselves and then they have to turn to something else."
And once they are in, there's no getting out.
He says, to pimps and traffickers young girls and boys are just a dollar sign. And the younger they are the more money they're worth. McGraw says, “They can make up to 10, 20, 25 thousand dollars a month by selling them over and over."
Norma Mullican, Executive Director of the Refuge of Light— a ministry for sex trafficked victims in East Texas says, "What we have seen locally is heartbreaking; because kids are being trafficked, young girls are being trafficked locally."
Mullican says, child exploitation looks a little different in East Texas than other parts of the world.
"What we see locally in East Texas is it's the parents, it's the family that is trafficking the children.” She explains, parents who are addicted to drugs. Mullican says, "I had one little girl, that her mom was on drugs, and the drug dealer was coming to the house, and mom would shoot up as soon as the drug dealer got there, the drug dealer would take the little girl in the other room and rape her."
Refuge of light is currently raising money to build a safe home for trafficked victims in the East Texas area.
Experts from the F.B.I and other agencies say, drug dealers, and organized criminals are finding more of a business in children than drugs.
Sensley says,"Gangs prefer trafficking of girls over drugs, and that's becoming the unfortunate reality."
Tyler FBI Special Agent, Brent Chambers says law enforcement is beginning to shift and take a closer look into trafficking and they are beginning to prosecute more criminals each year to put a stop to it.
Chambers says, "For example, right around 2009 we had a hundred and fifty cases, as of last year we have over 450 cases."
There are currently 88 task forces across the U.S. to tackle this problem. Nick Sensley helped build the task force in Dallas 7 years ago, now he's been asked to create one in East Texas.
"Longview and Tyler, those areas fall into the Eastern District of the U.S. Attorney's Office, and we're looking to form a similar type task force in the Eastern District."
Chong Kim says, although she will never heal completely from the scars of slavery, she finds ways to cope by advocating for victims and encouraging a movement all over the world.
Kim says, “It's time to get mad, and be empowered."
Mullican says, "We should all be fighting to stop this with everything we have."
Sensley says, “If we do not become enraged about this issue, then we are truly missing an opportunity to impact a problem that is very pervasive, and is going on in so many circles around us, and affecting so many lives."
To learn more about sex trafficking please visit:
To watch the trailer to the movie ‘Eden’ based on the life story of Chong Kim please visit: http://www.edenthefilm.com/
Sex Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888