Teen texts 911, saves self from human trafficking in Ventura County

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office is highlighting the relatively new ability to text 911 after a Spanish-speaking teen used it to save herself from human trafficking.

The girl, 17, was rescued in Casitas Springs in unincorporated Ventura County at about 3 a.m. May 9, officials said in a news release.

The teen, whose name was not released, only spoke Spanish, but she was able to text pleas for help, and at the Sheriff’s Communication Center, the “messages were received in Spanish and translated to English,” the release said.

“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,” officials added.

Even through the language barrier, the girl was “able to identify landmarks and other identifiable information,” allowing help to reach her even though she didn’t know where she was.

Her alleged abductor, 31-year-old Gerardo Cruz of Veracruz, Mexico, was taken into custody.

He is being held at the Todd Road Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail on charges of human trafficking, forcible rape, lewd acts upon a child, luring and sexual penetration with force, the Sheriff’s Office said. He is due to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on Wednesday, according to jail records.

As for the teen, investigators say she had been trafficked out of Mexico two months ago, and she’s been taken to Child Family Services until she can be reunited with her family.

Anyone with information about human trafficking operations or victims is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 (TIPS). Callers can remain anonymous.

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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.