Mexican national accused of trafficking teen girl into US — girl saved herself by texting 911

A Mexican national was arrested last week by authorities in California for allegedly trafficking a 17-year-old girl into the United States, KTLA reported.

The suspect was captured after the teen acquired a cell phone and used it to text 911. The girl, who only spoke Spanish and was unaware of her location, described key landmarks and other identifiable information to law enforcement. Authorities were able to use the information to locate and rescue her within approximately 20 minutes.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported, “In the early morning hours of May 9th, deputies working the Ojai Sheriff’s Sub-Station rescued a female human trafficking victim who had text ‘911’ to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Communication Center.”

‘Relatively new technology.’

The teenager was located in Casitas Springs and had been trafficked out of Mexico two months ago, the sheriff’s office said. After being rescued from the captor, the girl was transported to the county’s Child Family Services until she can be reunited with her family.

The suspect, 31-year-old Gerardo Cruz from Veracruz, Mexico, was taken into custody. He is facing multiple charges, including human trafficking, forcible rape, and lewd acts upon a child, as well as luring and sexual penetration with force, according to the sheriff’s office. His bail was posted at $500,000.

The Sheriff’s Communication Center received the text from the teenager in Spanish, and its system was able to translate the message to English for the 911 dispatcher.

The sheriff’s office said, “The ability to send a text message to an emergency call center is relatively new technology.”

“This incident also utilized integrated translation technology as the call taker only spoke English and the victim only spoke and wrote in Spanish. The call taker was able to quickly interpret and text back a response in English, which was quickly re-translated to Spanish for the victim,” the office added.

According to Empower the Fight, approximately “250,000 children per year are victims of sex trafficking.”

“Human trafficking is the fastest-growing organized crime activity in the United States,” the grassroots anti-exploitation organization stated.

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