Teen Rescued After Texting 911, Unveiling Trafficking Horror

A 17-year-old girl, who was smuggled into the United States from Mexico, has been rescued from a house in California after bravely texting 911 for help, authorities revealed on Thursday.

According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the teenager, who is fluent only in Spanish, had been brought into California by a 31-year-old Mexican national, who stands accused of assaulting her.

The shocking revelation came to light when the communication center received desperate texts in Spanish to 911, pleading for assistance around 3 a.m. on May 9.
Promptly translating the messages, officials embarked on a mission to determine her whereabouts.

Despite being unaware of her exact location, the victim managed to convey landmarks and other identifying details visible from the residence, aiding law enforcement’s efforts, the sheriff’s office disclosed.

Deputies swiftly mobilized, scouring the Casitas Springs area while maintaining communication with the victim through text messages.

“After about twenty minutes of searching the area of Casitas Springs, the victim was found by deputies,” the sheriff’s office recounted.

The suspect, identified as Gerardo Cruz, was subsequently located and apprehended by authorities.

Facing charges including human trafficking, forcible assault, lewd acts upon a child, luring, and penetration with force, Cruz is currently in custody, held on bail set at $500,000.

Following her rescue, the girl received necessary medical attention and is currently under the care of Ventura County Child Family Services as arrangements are made for her reunification with her family.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement underscoring the pivotal role of technology in facilitating the rescue operation, emphasizing the use of integrated translation services that enabled seamless communication between the victim and emergency responders despite the language barrier.

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

“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 statement continued.

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