Domestic Discovery

In a videotaped segment, Detective Silvia of the Jacinto, Texas police department recalls the events that led to the discovery of a teenage girl who was being held as a sex slave.

 

"This is the house where the 16-year-old girl was being held. Through the coordinates that we had from 911, we kind of pinpointed this house," she says, pointing to a white house behind an iron fence.

"We found out it was a sex slave case when I started interviewing her," Silvia says. "She was smuggled to this country by the suspect. He had promised love and marriage, and he had a fat wallet, a fancy SUV and baited her into the United States."

 

When the suspect met the victim, he brought her to the house. "The suspect's mother immediately told him, ‘You've got to put her to work as a sex slave.' The victim had to have sex for $75 a customer," Silvia reveals. "I was very shocked to hear that this was happening in Jacinto City."

"These people are dangerous," Silvia warns of the men who run the sex parlors. During a drive-along in her patrol car, Silvia points to a building and says, "This is the club Guerrero. This is where they had my victim working as a sex slave. It's closed. They would take my victim into this room. This is where they were making her perform sex acts."

 

The victim shared with Silvia that when she did not want to perform sexual acts, she was punished. "She would get whipped and placed in a room with a padlock, and they wouldn't feed her for days," Sylvia says. "I still feel teary-eyed when I think about her."

Sylvia says there is little hope for women who become victims to the sex trade. "There's no getting out of it unless you get rescued, like this little girl," she says.

FBI Special Agent Maritza Conde-Vasquez joins Dr. Phil to discuss cases similar to the one Detective Silvia was recounting.

"They're actually accessing some of these kids through Craigslist, getting into chat rooms and finding people all over the Internet, right?" Dr. Phil asks.

"That's correct," Maritza says.

"[Children] get lured, they get promised things, and then once [the traffickers] get their hands on them, then they can isolate and exploit them," Dr. Phil says.

"The traffickers are selling a dream," Maritza says. "If it's an illegal immigrant, they're selling the American Dream. If it's domestic children, they're selling a good life, pricey clothes, a better lifestyle, because most of these kids on the domestic side are runaways, are neglected children, are often abused children. They were not protected at home, and they see in the traffickers their protector."

Dr. Phil's previous guest, Justin Dillon, filmmaker and producer of the documentary Call + Response, recently visited Houston. Dr. Phil asks him about the cantinas he visited while there.

"It's another world," he says. "A dozen, maybe 20 girls [are] just waiting to be sold for sex. We talked to one girl in Houston who said that the only time that she had ever been outside the premises [in two months] was during Hurricane Ike."

 

Julia explains that Ernie Allen, the president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, gets 800,000 calls per year, and he thinks that between 100,000 and 300,000 of those kids end up in child prostitution in America. "The thing that we have to do is not arrest those girls and treat them as criminals, but go after the pimps, and recognize that a 12-year-old who's arrested in America for prostitution is actually a trafficking victim and she needs services. She needs support. She needs intervention and help," she says.

"We have to go and rescue a girl even when we don't have a chance of prosecution, and that's never been seen before in any type of other violations by law enforcement," Maritza says. "We realize it needs to be a victim-centered approach. We can't be arresting girls. We can't be putting them in jail. We need to provide them with the services they need."