(NEW YORK) — A routine traffic stop in North Carolina may have prevented a case of child trafficking, according to police.
Deputies with the Nash County Police Department arrested Alejandro Hernandez Vazquez, 40, after realizing his 16-year-old female passenger had been reported missing by Florida’s Coral Springs Police Department only five hours earlier.
“It was not like she was bound in the car and things of that nature, but you know, it’s a young 16-year-old and a grown man, and he’s manipulated her and carried her across this country,” Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone told ABC affiliate WTVD-TV. “This is a true case of child trafficking.”
Deputies initially pulled over Alejandro Hernandez Vazquez at midnight on July 4 after he committed a traffic violation in a 2016 Audi SUV on Interstate 95. The release noted that the deputies “developed reasonable suspicion to believe that criminal activity was afoot” after asking a series of routine questions.
Deputies later learned that Vazquez’s 16-year-old female passenger was reported missing by her family five hours earlier, according to the release. Officers also recovered two THC vape pens in the car’s driver door and center console.
“The suspect was not known to the family, nor did he have permission to transport the juvenile across state lines,” police said.
Stone added that the teen appeared to be traveling willfully with Vazquez.
Children account for over 30% of the missing persons in the United States, with 337,195 reports of missing young people entered into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center in 2021.
The 16-year-old was transported to Wake County Juvenile Detention Center to be picked up by her family, while Vazquez was taken into custody at the Nash County Detention Center where he was held on a $500,000 secured bond.
Vazquez was charged with abduction of child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, felony possession of a synthetic cannabinoid, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia, according to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.
His next court appearance is scheduled for July 20.
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