Human trafficking is one of those terrible crimes that sadly doesn't get enough attention in our society.
The Justice Department estimates that as many as 17,500 Americans are trafficked every year, and become the victims of sexual assault and other crimes.
The Global Slavery Index reported that 50,000 people in America could be the victims of human trafficking right now.
Children are more vulnerable than adults, and the Department of State says a stunning 244,000 children are "at risk" of being trafficked.
That's why American Airlines employee Denice Miracle is being recognized by the sheriff's department in Sacramento, California.
The quick-thinking airline employee may have saved two teenage girls from a living hell.
The girls, 15 and 17 years old, walked up to Miracle's counter with luggage but no ID, hoping to fly from Sacramento to New York on prepaid tickets. Miracle says she knew something was off right away.
"I think the way they kept looking back-and-forth at each other, like they weren't really sure," she told KOVR about her instinct.
"And then they were texting someone on the phone, and that person was giving them answers."
A little digging revealed the pricey first-class tickets had been purchased with another person's credit card.
"It just doesn't feel right to me," Miracle thought, and she called the local sheriff's department.
But even they were surprised by how close these girls came to something truly horrible.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department says the two teenagers were defensive about their tickets and travel plans.
Eventually, they revealed they had met a man named "Drey" on Instagram, and he had bought the tickets.
The girls said Drey had offered them $2,000 to appear in a music video as models. That's when the police pointed out a chilling detail.
The ticket Drey had bought the teenagers only went one-way. Sheriff's Deputy Todd Sanderson said the teens were stunned by the news.
"They were somewhat flippant about – ‘No, that can't be true’ – and I said, ‘No, the airline says you have a one-way ticket, and in my belief, you're going back there not to do the things that you think you were going to be doing,'" he told them.
"And they said, 'I wouldn't let anything happen that I didn't want.' And I said, ‘Well, you probably wouldn't have a choice in the matter.’”
Police said they're still trying to apprehend Drey, but they're thanking the clever ticket agent, who really was a "miracle" for these girls.
It probably helped that American Airlines trained 120,000 employees to recognize the signs of child sex trafficking last year.
This story is a reminder that we should all learn the signs of human trafficking and be alert - you never know when you'll save a life.
Share this heroic story so we'll all remember to be on the lookout!
[H/T: Fox 19]