She spotted something unusual.
An airport worker in California has been praised for having likely prevented two teenage girls from being sex trafficked.
Denice Miracle, a customer service worker for American Airlines was on shift at Sacramento International Airport when she was approached by two young girls, aged 17 and 15, at her ticket desk. Alerted by the fact that neither of the youngsters had any identification, they were unaccompanied by adults, yet they had two one-way first-class tickets to New York, Denice refused to let the girls fly, the Miami Herald reports.
“Between the two of them, they had a bunch of small bags. It seemed to me as if they were running away from home,” the American Airlines worker said in a statement released by the airline. “They kept looking at each other in a way that seemed fearful and anxious. I had a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right.”
Upon further investigation, it became clear that the teenagers’ tickets had been booked by another person with a fraudulent credit card, which only grew suspicions further. After being denied entry to the boarding gate, the girls went off to make a phone call while Denice made a call to the local County Sheriff’s Department’s Airport Bureau.
After questioning the youngsters, Deputy Todd Sanderson discovered the girls had been on the phone to a man named ‘Drey’ who they had met on Instagram. It emerged Drey had offered to fly the teens to New York for the weekend and pay them $2,000 (almost £1500) to model and star in music videos.
Authorities noticed, however, that Drey had failed to purchase a return flight for either of the girls, which led them to believe Drey had been planning on sex trafficking the young women. Neither of the youngsters had told their parents where they were going.
As it turned out, the teenagers were unaware their ticket had no return journey attached. “When I told them that they didn’t have a flight home, that’s when it kind of sunk in that maybe I was actually telling the truth,” Sanderson said.
In a concerning turn of events, all attempts to contact Drey were unsuccessful; he disconnected his phone after receiving the teenagers’ initial call to say they weren’t allowed to fly, and he quickly deleted his Instagram page. He still hasn’t been tracked down, and there are fears he may succeed in sex trafficking other young girls in a similar way.
Thankfully, both teenagers were reunited with their parents on this occasion, and no harm came to them – but that’s solely thanks to Denice and her intuition that something was wrong.
“Without her, I wouldn’t have been called and we wouldn’t have intervened with these girls,” Sanderson said in a statement.
This article originally appeared on elleuk.com