Teen who texted 911 rescued after she was trafficked to California from Mexico | California

Authorities rescued a 17-year old girl after she was trafficked to Ventura county, California, from Mexico two months ago and texted 911 for help.

On Thursday, the Ventura county sheriff’s office announced that on 9 May authorities rescued the girl after she sent messages to 911. The text message correspondence began with a call taker at a 911 communication center, according to the sheriff’s office, which added that the messages were received in Spanish and translated into English.

In the messages, the girl, who did not know where she and her captor were, was able to identify landmarks and provide other identifiable information, authorities said. As the 911 dispatcher corresponded with the girl, other communications center team members delivered real-time information to authorities who were responding to the search.

After approximately 20 minutes of searching the area of Casitas Springs, a community located about 86 miles from Los Angeles, authorities located the girl. She was evaluated and transferred to Ventura county child family services until she can be reunited with her family. Authorities did not disclose whether the girl will remain in the US or return to Mexico.

The suspect has been identified as 31-year-old Gerardo Cruz from Veracruz, Mexico. Booked at the pre-trial detention facility, Cruz has been charged with human trafficking, forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, luring and sexual penetration with force. He remains in custody with bail set at $500,000.

In its announcement, authorities hailed the ability to send text messages to emergency call centers, adding, “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.”

California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the US, according to the state’s office of the attorney general. Since 2015, between 20 and 30% of human trafficking cases in California that are reported annually to the National Human Trafficking Hotline involved children under 18 years old.

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