AUSTIN -- Attorney General Ken Paxton announced a new unit in his office to fight human trafficking Thursday morning.
"Texas unfortunately is at the heart of trafficking in the United States. We're responsible for the nation's second-highest number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center," Paxton said.
In 2015, there were 330 trafficking cases reported in Texas; women six times more likely than men to be targeted. Houston has the highest number of human trafficking victims in the country.
"We're working to make such crimes a thing of the past in Texas," Paxton said.
The new unit is called Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime and its team will have five investigators, three lawyers, a DNA investigator and a victims advocate.
Erica Schmidt-Portnoy works with Refugee Services of Texas in Austin. She said they've seen an increase in the number of human trafficking cases over the past few years.
"To have survivors knowing that if and when they do speak up, justice will be served is huge," Schmidt-Portnoy said.
The head of the unit is Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Leeburg Melton.
"My view is the way that people learn best about human trafficking is to hear it from the voices of the people who experienced it," Leeburg Melton said.
Leeburg Melton began her comments Thursday morning reading a diary entry from a human trafficking victim.
"When he put the gun to my head, he asked me was I scared? I looked at him and I said no. But I was terrified," Leeburg Melton said.
There are two reasons Texas has such a high rate of human trafficking -- the I-10 corridor and shared border with Mexico. Authorities said many victims are American, despite public perception.
"Over 90 percent of the trafficking cases that we see are with U.S. citizens that are being victimized," said Austin Police Sgt. Bob Miljenovich.
Paxton's office is also spreading awareness about how to spot potential victims. For more information, go here.
Video from Thursday morning's press conference: