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American Airlines ticket agent's intuition saves 2 girls from potential human trafficking

'It just didn’t feel right,' Miracle, who worked the Sacramento International Airport counter, said.

American Airlines ticket agent's intuition saves 2 girls from potential human trafficking
Image Source: YouTube/CBS Sacramento

Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 20, 2021. It has since been updated.

Gut instinct should never be underestimated—it can potentially save lives. A quick-thinking American Airlines agent in California saved two girls from becoming victims of human trafficking when her intuition told her something was wrong.

When two young girls from Roseville, California, approached Denice Miracle at the Sacramento International Airport ticket counter, she was immediately suspicious. They were alone, had no identification, and they each held a one-way first-class ticket. “It just didn’t feel right,” she told TODAY. “They were young and by themselves. It’s unusual to get teens traveling that far by themselves … One of the girls was texting someone on the phone to get answers. They had small bags, and I initially thought they were running away from home.”


Miracle had been working as a customer service agent for 28 years. "The way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other like they weren’t really sure, and they were texting someone on the phone, and that person was giving them answers," she told CBS Sacramento. Her concerns were further confirmed when the girls’ tickets were flagged for potential credit card fraud. She informed the girls, who were aged 15 and 17, that there was something wrong with their tickets and would let them know when it was checked out. In the meantime, she contacted the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Airport Bureau.


Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Sanderson approached the girls and soon learned they had received the plane tickets from a man they met on Instagram. This man, "Drey," promised them $2,000 for a modeling gig and performing in music videos. Recognizing the red flags, Sanderson informed the girls that Drey had only booked one-way tickets, which shocked them. Initially, they insisted they wouldn’t become victims. "That's typically the ruse used to get minors involved," he told KTVU. When Sanderson contacted Drey, he quickly deleted all his social media profiles.

Investigators stated that if the girls had taken the flight, their lives would have been forever altered. They were traveling without their parents' knowledge. “I’m proud of Denice and how she put her training into action to save these children,” said American Airlines general manager Aleka Turner. “She is a testament to the critical role our frontline team members play every day in the operation and the lives of each person they come in contact with.” The girls were safely reunited with their families and returned home.


“That was my 15-year-old daughter,” the mom of one of the girls wrote to Miracle. “There are no words to express our gratitude to you. Thank you. Because of you, my daughter is home safe with her family where she is loved and belongs.” Miracle was touched and said, “It’s just heartwarming. It makes me feel really good, and I’m glad they’re safe.” Sanderson also expressed his gratitude to Miracle and said, “I’m very, very thankful Ms. Miracle with American Airlines was able to use her intuition and concern and actually say something.” 


According to Polaris Project, online recruitment in all types of sex and labor trafficking on social media platforms including, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp, and dating sites/apps as well. "Traffickers may build an intimate relationship with a victim through social media or advertise fake or deceptive job opportunities," the website stated.  


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