Police rescue kidnapped 13-year-old girl during traffic stop

CANTON, Ga. — A traffic stop led police to rescue a kidnapped 13-year-old girl as she was being taken to another state, according to officials and WSB-TV.

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An officer stopped a 2014 Dodge Caravan on North Street near Railroad Street in Canton just before 10:25 a.m. after spotting a driver who was holding her cellphone. The driver couldn’t give the officer a driver’s license or identification, police said.

The officer ran the vehicle’s registration and learned that the van had been reported stolen out of North Carolina. During a search, authorities found 13 THC vape cartridges, three vape pens, a “THC Nerds Rope” and what police described as “a large amount of lingerie” in the van, officials said.

The officer became suspicious after finding the items and called detectives to the area. Investigators determined that the driver was a 16-year-old girl who was taking a 13-year-old girl in the van to another state. Police said the 13-year-old was a victim of human trafficking and kidnapping. The girl has since been reunited with her family, officials said.

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Authorities arrested the 16-year-old on charges including trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude, kidnapping and theft by receiving stolen property. On Friday, authorities said she remained in custody at a regional youth detention center.

Chief Stephen Merrifield praised police involved in the case in a statement released Friday.

“By taking a routine traffic stop and conducting an exceptional investigation, members of the Canton Police Department forever changed a young girl’s life for the better,” he said.