A vigilant aviation worker at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston helped rescue a human trafficking victim. Monica Phillips, responsible for security and information at Houston Airports, noticed several red flags that prompted her to take action. Her quick thinking and training in identifying suspicious situations led to the discovery of a woman in distress.
Monica Phillips, an experienced aviation worker, received a call from a man claiming his mother had gone missing after boarding a flight from Lubbock, Texas to Houston. Phillips found it suspicious that the caller waited five days before contacting the airport. Sensing something amiss, she transferred the call to the Houston Police Department (HPD). However, the caller refused to file a missing persons report, raising further suspicions of human trafficking.
On June 7th, Phillips arrived at work early and noticed a woman struggling to communicate with the police in Terminal A’s ticketing lobby. Phillips had a gut feeling that this woman might be the one the caller had been searching for. Using translation technology, she discovered that the woman spoke Hungarian and confirmed her identity. The woman revealed that she had traveled from Lubbock to Houston with two men and was ultimately bound for Europe. However, she managed to escape her captors upon landing at Bush Airport and had been hiding in the terminals.
Houston Police Department alerted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, who discovered that the two men had the victim’s passport. The victim had checked a bag in Lubbock but was unable to retrieve it in Houston. Phillips, with the help of a friend from United Airlines who spoke Hungarian, facilitated communication with the victim. It was evident that she had endured a harrowing experience, spending ten days hiding in the airport without proper food. The victim was taken to a Houston-area hospital for medical attention.
Law enforcement authorities are now investigating the case as a human trafficking incident.