Durham traffic stop discovers runaway teens on cross-country odyssey with two men (N&O)

Last week, a Durham deputy stopped an SUV for what he originally presumed to be a DWI.  What resulted is a bizarre case of runaway teenagers and a possible sex-trafficking case, stretching across multiple states.

Anne Blythe’s recent News & Observer article explains the May 30 event, where five teenagers were taken out of the SUV into custody.  The other two men, aged 20 and 22, were eventually arrested and are being held in the Durham County jail on charges of kidnapping, possession of a stolen weapon, possession of a stolen vehicle, and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Investigators are looking into possible sex-trafficking ties.  The two men were actually picked up in Pennsylvania by one of the teens, a 15-year-old boy from Michigan who had stolen his mother’s Escalade on May 28 and had run away from home.  The journey continued through Maryland before ending in Durham.

Everyone in the SUV had never met before in person, but they all claimed to be familiar with each other through a social media website.

Durham investigators have contacted the federal Department of Homeland Security, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to look into the possibility that a sex trafficking ring based in California may be involved.

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