HOUSTON (CNN) — Letty Serrano turned 15 in May. On Saturday, she killed herself.
“I wish we would have done more for her. And when I say, ‘we,’ I mean the city. Us as a community,” Letty’s Godmother, Cynthia Rivera says.
Her family says she couldn’t live with her pain.
Two years ago she went missing. Her family says they found her in Moody Park, drugged and abused.
She was damaged after that.
“She was taken by an older man. She was drugged. Her story is that then she was abused by different men,” Rivera says.
The family not only wants justice, they also want to spread awareness about how common sex trafficking of young women is in Houston.
Her father said she was a different person after she went missing, and now he wants justice.
He wants the men who did this to her to go to jail, as he says he is destroyed over her death.
She was his life.
Micah Gamboa is the Executive Director of Elijah Rising, an anti-trafficking nonprofit 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 among the 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 says.
They say suicide is common among sex trafficking victims. In Letty’s case, the man likely responsible for dragging her into the trade never faced 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 says.
Gamboa says the laws aren’t strong enough and that better legislation is needed, but most importantly, what will help girls and women like Letty is awareness.
Exactly what Letty’s loved ones hope to do by sharing her sad story.