Police Declare: Search for Missing Columbus Teen Victim of Human Trafficking, Possible Suspect

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The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force needs your help to find a teenager victim of human trafficking who is missing from central Ohio.

The COHTTF is currently searching for Daniela Junith Cruz-Rios 17, a minor unaccompanied and undocumented who speaks Spanish only. According to the Columbus Division of Police, Cruz-Rios has been victim of human smuggling or trafficking. 

Investigators suspect that Cruz-Rios is being threatened and controlled by traffickers because Cruz-Rios’ mother and infant are in Mexico.

The Columbus Division of Police posted three hours later that they were searching for Moises Perez Jimenez (42 years old) in an effort to find him.

According to police, Jimenez is currently on a felony warrant for disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile.

Sgt. Dana Hess, Director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force. NBC 4 that a security guard at a synagogue alerted Columbus police that something may not be right after seeing  Cruz-Rios and Jimenez.

NBC 4 reports that detectives discovered that the girl had been illegally brought to the United States after being involved in a trafficking investigation.

The outlet reported Cruz-Rios was saved in late June. Franklin County Children’s Services then placed Cruz-Rios into a Spanish-speaking foster home.

Hess told NBC 4 that the girl went missing shortly after then, leading police to begin working with Homeland Security, children’s services, and U.S. She was recovered by Marshals along with the man wanted for questioning.

This makes the case even more complicated for investigators, Hess said to NBC 4.

“Unfortunately, one of the most challenging aspects of a child who is undocumented and unaccompanied is that we don’t have cell phones for them,”Hess stated the following: 

“Most of them don’t have a cell phone, most of them don’t have social media, they don’t speak English, so our normal means of pinging cell phones or tracking their social media, we can’t use.”

Hess advised NBC 4 not to approach Cruz-Rios, Jimenez or anyone else who may be able to help them but to instead call police. Additionally, anyone with information about the teen or Jimenez’s whereabouts is asked to call the Columbus Division of Police at 614-645-4545 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.