“Trafficked: Web of Despair”


Erica Proffer and Malena Hernandez
November 12, 2016

After a peak in illegal immigration summer 2014, a leaked state intelligence report claimed half of women smuggled into the United States become victims of human trafficking. KRGV-TV spent a year talking with victims of the illegal trade, to find out how they get caught in a web of despair. We explored the two categories of human trafficking: sex and labor. The expose took the viewer into the lives of several survivors. One woman was forced to work without any breaks. She slept on the floor and narrowly escape her captor. Another thought she was headed to a restaurant to work. After she arrived, the threats began. Her family was in danger. She became trapped in the sex slave trade. Then, an American woman explained how she was trafficked by her mother at the age of 6. A police officer revealed how some victims, although held against their will, may never be considered “trafficked.” KRGV-TV uncovered challenges law enforcement faces, spoke with trafficking victims and discovered ways the public can help identify crime that may be happening right in front of them.

We took our coverage one step further. We dedicated one of our newscast slots to air the half-hour special without commercial interruption. We also aired our report in Spanish on our Secondary Audio Program channel to reach more viewers. Through a partnership with a Spanish-language radio station, we broadcast the report on their airwaves as well.

Since our report aired, our information has been passed along among non-governmental organizations as well as governmental officers and agents. One local school district shared our tips with their counselors to help identify human trafficking victims in the schools. We also gave a presentation to some navy reservists to teach them what we’ve learned.

On a special web page dedicated to providing the public with more information, KRGV-TV still teaches viewers and readers how to identify human trafficking in their community. A link to that special page is here.

If you want to view our additional research and our radio program, visit our dropbox accountholding more content.

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Submitted by Erica Proffer.

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