U.S. Border Patrol agents found a missing girl in a big-rig truck more than 400 miles from her home, authorities said Friday.
They stopped the truck at a checkpoint on Interstate 35 in Laredo, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border, then found the girl hidden inside.
“Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents continue to be diligent every day in protecting the safety of our citizens and preventing potential tragedy,” sector agents posted on Facebook after announcing they found the girl.
The Border Patrol did not publicly identify the girl or the driver. A spokesperson said they both were transferred to the custody of the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, which will investigate. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office did not return a call seeking comment.
The incident comes just shortly after a woman was seriously hurt jumping from an 18-wheeler Thursday to escape alleged kidnappers on Interstate 20 in Eastland County, according to the Cisco Police Department. That’s nearly 400 miles north of Laredo.
That woman told police she was taken in El Paso, Texas, and authorities said they believe the suspects, three men, were sex traffickers.
A second woman was still in the vehicle when she escaped, police said. But on Tuesday, the department released an update saying she was “safe and accounted for” and that “appropriate authorities” were taking over the investigation.
Meanwhile, a Texas law passed in 2019 that aims to combat human trafficking took effect Tuesday. H.B. 2059 requires certain health care practitioners to undergo training to help them identify signs of trafficking.
The idea is to enable them to notice and report potential trafficking situations when victims are not forthcoming, out of fear or other reasons.
Texas saw more than 1,000 human trafficking cases reported in 2019, according to the Human Trafficking Hotline. More than 900 involved female victims.
Anyone who suspects human trafficking can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.