'We got her back damaged': Sex-trafficked 15-year-old dies by suicide, family wants to raise awareness

HOUSTON -- A family is pleading for justice after a 15-year-old sex-trafficking victim took her own life.

Letty Serrano appeared to be a typical high school student with a loving family until she was forced into sex trafficking.

"She was a great girl," Serrano's grandmother Cynthia Rivera said. "She was a good student, and she loved her puppies."

On Saturday, Serrano died by suicide. Her family says it's because she was a victim of sex trafficking.

The family says at just 13 years old, Serrano was drugged and sold to sex traffickers.

When her family got her back, they say she was not the same little girl.

"We got her back damaged," Rivera said.

Serrano's father Mariano Serrano told WABC's sister station KTRK-TV that he's broken and destroyed about what happened to his daughter.

"I feel like I let her down," Rivera said.

Now, the family is raising money on Facebook for Serrano's funeral expenses.

They also want people to know how prevalent sex trafficking is and how to help fight it.

"It's a very familiar story, unfortunately," Micah Gamboa, executive director of Elijah Rising.

She says there are thousands of trafficking victims in Houston and over 300,000 in Texas.

"Entire cities are becoming red-light districts. It's no longer just a centralized or isolated issue. It's actually spreading across the nation," Gamboa said.

The non-profit says suicide is common among sex-trafficking victims because their traffickers are rarely ever caught.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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