She couldn’t call, so human-trafficking victim texted 911 — and saved herself, officials say

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A 17-year-old girl was able to save herself from being trafficked by texting 911.

The teenager, who authorities said was a victim of human trafficking, began texting the emergency number with “pleas for help” around 3 a.m. on May 9, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

The texts were routed to the Sheriff Office’s communication center, where staff began translating the messages from Spanish.

In a news release, the department said the teenager began texting landmarks and other “identifiable information” she was seeing, which helped the agency quickly dispatch deputies to the correct area. The teenager was located in Casitas Springs.

Investigators said they believed the victim was trafficked to Ventura County roughly two months ago from Mexico. She has been placed with the county’s Children & Family Services until authorities can locate her family, according to the release.

The department arrested Gerardo Cruz, 31, a native of Veracruz, Mexico. His bail is set at half a million dollars.

Ventura County began allowing people to reach 911 dispatchers via text in 2021.

The change was meant to make emergency dispatch services more accessible to people with speech impairments or people in emergency situations who can’t make phone calls, such as victims of domestic abuse, the Ventura County Star reported at the time.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.