A missing 4-year-old North Carolina girl was given to a human trafficking ring, potentially by her own mother, WRAL-TV reports.
Aubrianna Recinos and her mother, Carmen Lowe, had been missing since May, when they disappeared from their home in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Lowe had not returned Recinos to her father, Mario Recinos, after a visit, according to police, who deemed the matter a custody dispute and didn’t become involved in the matter until early July.
Once on the case, authorities tracked Lowe’s mobile phone and credit card purchases and eventually located her in New Orleans. The FBI arrested her on Thursday as part of an investigation into human trafficking, and subsequently learned Aubriana’s whereabouts: at a home in Lewisville, Texas, also connected to human trafficking.
| Endangered Missing Child |*UPDATE 08/02/19 7:50 AM: Aubriana Recinos has been located safe in Lewisville, Texas….
“The child was pretty much given to a pimp – an associate of the pimp or family of the pimp – for keeping,” Fayetteville Police Maj. Robert Ramirez told the television station. “It is a ring, a human trafficking ring, the FBI was investigating. These individuals had other children as well.”
Ramirez said had Aubrianna been discovered later, she could have become a victim of human trafficking, according to CBS DFW.
Mario Recinos said traveled to Texas on Friday to be reunited with his daughter.
“Holding [my] baby girl, it’s like a whole new feeling again. It’s kind of like something that you’ve long lost and thought you were never going to get back.”
Recinos said he believes Lowe sold Aubrianna to the pimp so she could settle a debt involving drugs, although investigators have not confirmed that claim.
But if true, it resembles a case from 10 years ago involving 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, whose mother gave her to a man to resolve a debt. The girl’s body was later found in a field and had evidence of sexual assault and asphyxiation.
According to Recinos, the victim, in that case, was Lowe’s cousin.
“This could have turned into a whole different scenario,” Recinos said. “I don’t even want to think about the negative. I’m just glad that she’s here alive.”
Aubrianna was not harmed while she was missing, her father said.
Court records show that Lowe, 23, has been charged with theft, violating a custody order and prostitution.
North Carolina is a particular hotbed for human trafficking in the United States, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
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[Feature Photo: Aubriana Recinos & Carmen Lowe/Fayetteville Police Department]