17-Year-Old Trafficking Victim Rescued In California After Texting 911

In a courageous act, a 17-year-old girl trafficked into the United States from Mexico has been liberated from captivity in a California residence after utilizing the 911 texting service to call for help, authorities disclosed on Thursday.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported that the teenager, proficient only in Spanish, had been smuggled into California by a 31-year-old Mexican national, who now stands accused of assaulting her.

The alarming situation unfolded when emergency services received frantic texts in Spanish to 911, imploring for assistance at approximately 3 a.m. on May 9.

Despite her limited knowledge of her whereabouts, the victim managed to relay landmarks and other identifiable features visible from the house, aiding authorities in their search efforts.

Law enforcement officers sprang into action, combing 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 detailed.

The suspect, identified as Gerardo Cruz, was swiftly located and apprehended by law enforcement.

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

Following her rescue, the young girl received immediate medical attention and is now in the care of Ventura County Child Family Services, awaiting reunification with her family.

In a statement, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office emphasized the critical role of technology in enabling effective communication between the victim and emergency responders, underscoring the integration of translation services that facilitated seamless interaction despite the language barrier.

“The ability to send a text message to an emergency call center is relatively new technology,” the statement read.

“This incident also utilized integrated translation technology as the call taker only spoke English and the victim only spoke and wrote in Spanish,” the statement continued. “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.”