It was just another normal Thursday afternoon for Denice Miracle, an American Airline ticketing agent who worked at Sacramento International Airport, California. However, when two young passengers approached her ticket counter, she felt something was not right.
The two girls, aged 15 and 17, weren’t accompanied by any adult. With only a few bags and no ID, they attempted to get on a flight to New York City but didn’t seem to be very clear about their travel plan.
“I think the way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other, like they weren’t really sure,” said Miracle. “And then they were texting someone on the phone, and that person was giving them answers.”
— WIS News 10 (@wis10) February 17, 2018
When Miracle saw the girls’ tickets, another red flag was raised. The tickets, both first class, were booked using a credit card whose owner didn’t seem to be associated with any of the two girls. It looked like someone purchased first-class tickets for two teenage girls with a fraudulent credit card—which was just seriously wrong.
Miracle decided that she wouldn’t allow the girls to fly. She did not hesitate to inform her supervisor and, of course, the police. When the police officer arrived, the girls admitted that they’d met a man called “Drey” on Instagram. Drey offered to buy them tickets to NYC, where he promised they would receive $2,000 for a modeling gig. The girls’ parents were unaware about all of this. They were told that the girls were sleeping over at each other’s houses.
The girls hadn’t realized that they were in danger. When they learned from the police officer that the tickets Drey booked for them were one-way instead of round-trip, they were shocked.
“They were somewhat flippant about—‘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,'” Deputy Todd Sanderson told Cleveland 19 News.
As the girls were in complete disbelief, they said, “I wouldn’t let anything happen that I didn’t want.”
The authorities located Drey’s Instagram account and tried to reach out to him only to find that he had all his online profiles wiped out. This further convinced the police that Drey was a human-trafficking predator snatching potential victims on social media.
Later, the girls were reunited with their parents, who were further informed that their daughters had nearly become victims of human trafficking.
American Airlines praised Miracle for her brave and wise decision. “I’m proud of Denice and how she put her training into action to save these children,” said AA General Manager Aleka Turner in a statement.
.@AmericanAir employee Denice Miracle on what she hopes others learn after reading the story of how she saved two girls from a potential trafficking situation:
“Just take that extra second.”
— ECPAT-USA (@ecpatusa) February 21, 2018
“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,” said Turner. “She’s a true professional with a huge heart.”
According to the FBI, human trafficking involves both U.S. citizens and foreigners alike and has no demographic correlations. While the U.S. government does not release definite statistics on human-trafficking victims, National Human Trafficking Hotline finds that some 5,147 cases were reported by June during 2018 alone. California, Texas, and Florida were among the states with the most cases reported.
Please do take full advantage of this list of domestic trafficking hotlines provided by the U.S. Department of State to report any suspected human-trafficking activity. You may be the miracle that someone has been praying for!