Disturbing new human trafficking film features SA case

‘Be the One' urges public to do its part

By Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A powerful new film released last week by the Texas Attorney General’s Office urges the public to ‘Be the One’ to do your part in fighting human trafficking.

“You can be the one that can make the call and save a life,” said Krista Leeburg Melton, deputy criminal chief of the Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime Section.

At a Rotary Club luncheon on Wednesday, Melton showed a portion that features a local case from 2010 that involved Jessica, a 13-year-old chronic runaway, who was saved thanks to a neighbor who alerted authorities. The two men who held the girl captive are now serving life sentences. 

In the film, Jessica, a young woman now in her 20s, calls Melton, an assistant Bexar County district attorney at the time, “The best person I’ve ever met because she believed me.”

Melton said that, in 2010, Bexar County became the first county in the state to have a human trafficking unit. She also said the Texas Attorney General’s Office is seeing more successful prosecutions “because, as communities begin to look, they begin to find the crime.”

Melton said modern-day slavery in all forms goes on daily throughout Texas.

“What we’re seeing is that people are beginning to recognize it and report it," she said.

Melton said “Be the One” makes the point that human trafficking could be going on in plain sight.

“Hey, this could be happening in my neighborhood. This could be happening at a local business I patronize," she said.

Melton said that, although the primary concern is usually protecting your own children or family members from falling victim to human traffickers, “we've got to start caring about the people that we don’t normally care about and asking questions and then to be willing to act on that information.”

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