HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. - A case of human trafficking was discovered by an Indiana State Police trooper who used his good judgment to save two children in Hancock County.
Romulo Molina, 26, of Honduras, was arrested and another man faces deportation after a traffic stop Tuesday morning, police said.
Trooper Matt Wilson pulled the men over for a traffic violation on Interstate 70. There were inconsistencies in the stories of the men and the two juveniles in the car, authorities said. Wilson said he could sense something was wrong.
"I could look at the kids in the back seat and tell that they were extremely in distress," Wilson said.
Wilson had several questions for the men and the kids and he didn’t like the answers he was getting. He said things weren’t adding up.
"One of the occupants said it was the driver's kids, and the driver said it was not his kids, it was some kids of a friend that he'd known. And when I had asked him who, what his friend's name was, he could not tell me because he did not know the name of the friend," Wilson said.
Police said the two juveniles, approximately 12 and 13 years old, were being held against their will. Further investigation revealed they were being taken to Columbus, Ohio to work off a debt that their family apparently owed to someone in Mexico, officials said.
Wilson said there was a language barrier with the kids as he tried to gain their trust.
"Honestly I was worried about that at first and that's why I went and bought McDonald’s for them, so that they knew everything was safe. They seemed like they were malnourished kids. You could tell they were moving quite a bit. The bag of clothes I had found in the back of the vehicle was their clothes and it was still wet from where they crossed the border and went through water," Wilson said.
The two juveniles were placed in the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Molina was taken to the Hancock County Jail. The other man was released to the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and faces deportation. His identity was not released.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement relies on tips from the public to dismantle human trafficking organizations. Call ICE’s tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE to report suspicious activity.
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