SACRAMENTO (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are crediting a quick-thinking airline employee with preventing two teens from becoming victims of human trafficking.
As CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported, the girls were trying to travel from California to New York, and something didn’t seem right. The airline worker said it was all about trusting her gut instincts.
It was just a typical day at Sacramento International Airport for American Airlines ticket agent Denise Miracle, when two young girls came to her ticket counter. They had a number of small bags, but told her they had no ID.
“I think the way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other like they weren’t really sure,” Miracle said, “and then they were texting someone on the phone and that person was giving them answers.”
Miracle noticed the ticket from Sacramento to New York was purchased online and the credit card had a different name. She also noticed something else.
“It was a first-class ticket. It was very expensive,” she said. “I told a supervisor: ‘I’m going to call the sheriff. It just doesn’t feel right to me.’ It just did not feel right.”
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, the 15- and 17-year-old girls told deputies they had met a man called “Drey” on Instagram, and he had invited them to New York for the weekend to earn $2,000 for some modeling in music videos.
They had told their parents they were spending the night at each other’s homes.
“They were somewhat flippant about – ‘No, that can’t be true’ and I said, ‘No, the airline says you have a one-way ticket,’ and I said, ‘In my belief, you’re going back there not to do the things that you think you were going to be doing,” said Sacramento County Police Deputy Todd Sanderson. “And they said, ‘I wouldn’t let anything happen that I didn’t want.’ And I said, ‘Well probably you wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.’”
Authorities quickly investigated “Drey” on Instagram, but it was too late.
“We attempted to look him up on Instagram,” Sanderson said. “Just a few minutes after our contact with him, he erased all of his profiles on social media.”
Authorities believe the person is an expert at such things, befriending potential victims online and luring them away. They believe the girls most certainly would have become victims.
Deputies said Miracle’ name certainly suits her.
“She probably really was their miracle that day whether they want to believe it or not,” Sanderson said.
Police said predators frequently befriend victims on the internet before luring them away.