Friday, October 17, 2014 - 11:31am

Small Group Working to Combat Sex Trafficking

Friday, October 15, 2010 - 5:37pm

3,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. through I-10 in El Paso each year. Half of them are children.

Many of them are forced into labor and sex trafficking.

Back in 2005, the Department of Justice gave a small task force a grant to combat sex trafficking here in the borderland. That grant has since dried up, but the task force is doing what they can with what little they have.

"It is so difficult to find the victims," said Virginia McCrimmon. She is the point of contact for the victims of human trafficking.

"They are very much afraid, the threats that are used as a means of control," she said.

While none of the victims she helps wanted to go on camera, their stories are heartbreaking. McCrimmon recently rescued a woman after 15 years of what she calls domestic slavery.

"Someone goes into Mexico, asks the woman, 'Do you want to work for my daughter in El Paso?' She says, 'of course,' they say, 'We'll pay you $50 a week,'" she recounted.

But the woman doesn't get paid. Instead, McCrimmon says she is verbally abused to the point where she becomes too scared to find help.

"Houses in your neighborhood that look quite respectful could be stash houses."

But McCrimmon and others are now operating on a shoestring budget. So Joshua Rivera, a student and musician who's been impacted by the horror stories, is organizing a concert to raise money and awareness.

"There is a need for this in El Paso," he said.

Rivera said he thinks that with a high-profile concert, more people might listen.

"If a little girl gets kidnapped and trafficked in Juarez, that's really not as big a deal to the media as the violence going on or the soccer game they just had," he said.

He's talking with Taylor Swift's management to get her to perform in May for a benefit concert that will help get funding for McCrimmon and her team, so that victims of human trafficking aren't left without a voice.

McCrimmon says the victims she rescues only have the clothes on their backs, so any donations are appreciated. To help, contact the Salvation Army at (915) 544-9811, or visit them at 4300 East Paisano Drive.

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