LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Sex trafficking is often associated with Eastern Europe or Asia, but few recognize to what extent people are exploited in the United States.

Maria Suarez was one such victim who’s now working to raise awareness about sex trafficking in Los Angeles.

She had legally immigrated to California and was a few weeks shy of her 16th birthday when she was sold for $200 to a man in Azusa.

Suarez was raped and tortured for years by Anslemo Covarrubias, a self-proclaimed witch doctor in his 70s.

When Covarrubias was later murdered by his neighbor Suarez helped conceal the murder weapon and was forced to serve 23 years at Chino state prison. Ultimately, an appeal lead to her parole in 2004.

As a recognized social worker, Suarez is now turning her pain into a campaign, where she educates small villages abroad and opens eyes at home about sex trafficking and enslavement.

For more information go to www.freetheslaves.net.


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