LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -
The problem of human trafficking continues to be a frightening reality that hits home in big cities and small towns in Texas.
Victims find themselves forced into sex trafficking, forced labor or worse. And the problem is known to be in East Texas as well, with homeless shelters attesting to those who have escaped traffickers.
Scenes of attempted abduction, are how most people believe human trafficking happens. But Longview investigators of the crime say the facts are much different.
"There is a misconception of exactly what human trafficking is. It's very rare that it would be a child being abducted. Small towns are no exception.
Trafficking can be within the family. It could be family friends," says Longview Police Department officer Debra Stiles.
Police say teens and pre-teens are targeted for their vulnerability, and places like House of Hope in Longview have seen those that have escaped.
"The girls and the people it happens to really are very vulnerable. They lay prey to predators. When you don't have any money, money is attractive.
There's several facets of how they can fall into the trap without really knowing about it," House of Hope director Helen Johnson says.