Georgia – When a Canton police officer pulled over a 16-year-old for distracted driving, he noticed something wasn’t right and discovered a 13-year-old girl who had been kidnapped and trafficked.
What started as a routine traffic stop ended with the rescue of a 13-year-old sex trafficking victim — and a 16-year-old in jail, according to Georgia authorities.
The older teen was driving a Dodge minivan when she was pulled over on June 22 in Canton after an officer spotted her on her cell phone, Canton police wrote in a news release.
She didn’t have a driver’s license or an ID, and gave police information that “did not appear to add up,” Officer Pacer Cordry told WAGA.
“The intuition of the officer putting everything together based on his experience knew something wasn’t right,” Cordry told the news station.
After running the vehicle’s registration, police learned the van was reported stolen out of North Carolina, according to the release. The officer then searched the van, finding more than a dozen THC vape cartridges, vape pens and “a large amount of lingerie.”
Detectives were called to the scene and determined the 13-year-old girl who was riding with the 16-year-old had been kidnapped and trafficked, according to police. The older teen was attempting to drive the victim out of state to “see a gentleman,” Cordry told WAGA.
The 16-year-old driver was arrested on multiple charges including kidnapping, sex trafficking and theft by receiving stolen property, police said. She was booked into a regional juvenile detention center.
Canton Police Chief Stephen Merrifield lauded officers for their “exceptional work” in the case.
“By taking a routine traffic stop and conducting an exceptional investigation, members of the Canton Police Department forever changed a young girl’s life for the better,” Merrifield said in a statement.
Authorities said the 13-year-old is safe and has been reunited with her family.
Canton is about 40 miles north of downtown Atlanta.