Missing Lehigh Acres girl found safe in Indiana

Case is being investigated as human trafficking
Posted at 7:34 AM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-27 21:40:23-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Homeland Security officials are investigating a case in which a 14-year-old Lee County girl that just moved to America was found safe in Indiana with other children who appear to be human trafficking victims.

According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded on Saturday to a home on Chipley Street in Lehigh Acres about a missing child.

The family says that 14-year-old Catarina Castro had just moved to Lehigh Acres from Guatemala a week ago to live with her half brother and his wife, who are sponsoring Catarina to get a green card.

Catarina does not speak English, but her family says she was adjusting well.

The couple says that on Saturday, Catarina was sitting in the driveway using her phone, but when they later went to find her, she had disappeared.

The family was able to contact the girl on her cell phone, and the girl explained she was with a woman who was taking her to a man that would employ her so she could pay back the family for money spent to bring her to the country.

Investigators determined that she had already left the state, so the U.S. Marshals and Homeland Security were notified.

The girl was located in a vehicle in Indiana with several other children that were possible victims as well.

The case is still under investigation.

The girl is likely being returned home to her new Florida family, but they fear they may lose custody of the girl.

LCSO says a Child is Missing Alert was issued, however the preliminary information did not meet the criteria for an Amber Alert.