A Huntsville teen reported missing in a kidnapping/human trafficking case has been rescued, according to authorities in Louisiana.
Investigators said the victim, whose identity is not being released, left Huntsville freely on Sept. 20 with the two suspects. Once they arrived in Beaumont, Texas, the suspects took the victim's phone and gave her a "GO" phone.
According to the Lake Charles Police Department in Louisiana, a personal website advertising the teen as an escort was set up and she was told she would provide escort services for men. After one night in Beaumont, the victim and both suspects traveled to Lake Charles. Once there, the suspects established another website advertising the victim as an escort.
The victim, fearing for her life, contacted her mother and gave her their location and movements. Lake Charles Police officers worked with the parents and were able to locate the victim and rescue her safely.
Members with the Huntsville Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force said this is a classic example of trafficking and it happens more often that you think.
"Sometimes victims are enticed to become involved with people because they promise things and then once they are under the control of these people the terms of their relationship changes and it is basically modern day slavery," said Deborah Callins. She is the Prevention Director with the National Children's Advocacy Center and a member of the task force.
Both suspects were later located in a hotel and arrested. Ivory Charles Pantallion III, 33, was charged with human trafficking and simple kidnapping. His total bond was set at $1 million.
Jessica Lynn Morgan, 24, was also arrested and charged with human trafficking and simple kidnapping. Her bond was set at $500,000.
Callins advices people to be aware of the signs that could mean someone is a human trafficking victim.
"If you are observing someone who looks like they are apprehensive around the people that they are with or that they are being controlled by someone else or that their money is being controlled by someone else or their comings or goings or who they communicate with, these are all red flags," she said.
Callins said most human trafficking stories don't have a happy ending like this situation, but it can be a lesson for others.
"I hope it can be used as example for others to realize how precious life is and a situation can turn on a dime," she said.
The task force also said that as weird as it may sound, parents should also teach their young children that they are not for sale. They said that although it's not unusual for young people to strike up relationships with new people, they shouldn't be so trusting. They suggested when teenagers meet new people, they should make sure they're not alone with them until they've built up a trusting relationship.
Task force members also advised victims to seek counseling, since human trafficking can have lasting effects.
Click the link to report a human trafficking tip: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/report-a-tip
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