17-year-old Girl Sex Trafficked From Mexico To US Is Rescued After Texting 911 For Help | Old North State Wealth News
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17-year-old girl sex trafficked from Mexico to US is rescued after texting 911 for help

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A 17-year-old trafficking victim was rescued by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office in California after texting 911, authorities said.

Around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, the sheriff’s office received a text message in Spanish that was asking for help by the female victim. The message was then translated from Spanish to English and responding officers were told by the victim that she did not know where she was, the press release said.

Police said although the victim did not know her exact location, she was able to identify landmarks and other things within her vicinity to help the sheriff’s office reach her.

After some back-and-forth, the deputies were dispatched and able to locate the victim within 20 minutes, police said.

Police to increase patrols: 3 women say they were sexually assaulted in Georgia Target

Victim tells deputies that she was trafficked from Mexico

During the preliminary investigation, the victim revealed that she had been trafficked from Mexico to Ventura County, California two months ago. The victim was also able to identify the suspect as Gerardo Cruz of Veracruz, Mexico, the press release said.

“We don’t know the specific route that she traveled, but we know it was through illegal means to get up here from Mexico,” Detective Chris Dyer told the Ventura County Star, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. “We’re still kind of putting together how she got here. She came through a couple of different people and a couple of different locations.”

After speaking with deputies, the victim was evaluated and transferred to the Ventura County Child Family Services, where they will help her to be reunited with her family.

Cruz, 31, was quickly located and arrested, police said.

Suspect faces multiple charges

Detectives from the Major Crimes Bureau’s Sexual Assault Unit booked Cruz on multiple charges. On Monday, May 13 Cruz was arraigned in the Ventura Superior Court for:

Cruz is now in custody and his bail is set at $500,000.

USA TODAY has reached out to Detective Dyer for more details on the case but have not heard back.

Help for trafficking victims

If you know anyone who maybe a victim of human trafficking or suspect someone of running a human trafficking operation, please call your local law enforcement agency or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  Callers can remain anonymous.

More information about human trafficking can be found at www.polarisproject.org

Contributing: Dua Anjum, Ventura County Star.

Ahjané Forbes is a reporter on the National Trending Team at USA TODAY. Ahjané covers breaking news, car recalls, crime, health, lottery and public policy stories. Email her at aforbes@gannett.com. Follow her on Instagram, Threads and X (Twitter).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 17-year-old girl saved from sex trafficking after texting 911 for help



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