American Airlines ticket agent Denice Miracle was working at Sacramento’s International Airport when two teens approached the counter to check in for their flight. The girls, aged 15 and 17, had no identification, no adult supervision, and their tickets to New York were both first-class and one-way.
“It seemed to me that they were running away,” Miracle said in a statement released by American Airlines. “They kept looking at each other in a way that seemed fearful and anxious. I had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right.”
Upon further inspection, Miracle noticed that the credit card used to purchase the tickets was registered under a name that did not match the names of either of the girls. Trusting her instincts, Miracle informed the teenagers that they would not be permitted to board the plane and then called Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Airport Bureau to explain the situation.
Four deputies arrived on the scene to investigate. They discovered that the girls had befriended a man named “Drey” on Instagram who invited them to travel to New York for the weekend to appear in a music video and offered to pay them $2,000. Each girl told her respective parents that she would be spending the weekend at the other’s house.
Deputy Todd Sanderson said that the teens had no idea that they had been given one-way tickets.
“They were somewhat flippant about [it],” said Sanderson. “[They said] ‘No, that can’t be true’ — and I said, ‘No, the airline says you have a one-way ticket, and in my belief, you’re going back there not to do the things that you think you were going to be doing.’ And they said, ‘I wouldn’t let anything happen that I didn’t want.’ And I said, ‘Well, you probably wouldn’t have a choice in the matter.’”
Authorities attempted to message “Drey” via Instagram but, within minutes of the initial contact, all of his social media accounts had been deactivated.
An overwhelming number of people are tricked and forced into human trafficking situations every day. Luckily, thanks to quick thinking and close attention to detail, Miracle was able to save two potential victims from a lifetime of horror.
“I’m proud of Denice and how she put her training into action to save these children,” said Sacramento County Airport System general manager Aleka Turner. “She is a testament to the critical role our frontline team members play each and every day in the operation and the lives of each person they come in contact with.”
It is truly a ‘miracle’ that this story ends with the girls being returned to their families, safe and sound.
“She probably really was their miracle that day, whether they want to believe it or not,” said Sanderson.
American Airlines officially signed the ECPAT-USA’s Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct last month and has been keeping its promise to help stop human trafficking. Hopefully, American Airlines can keep up the good work!
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