USA Flag

Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration

Houston Officers Thwart Human Trafficking Attempt

Thursday, September 26, 2019
Houston Officers Thwart Human Trafficking Attempt

Three officers at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) are being credited with saving a minor’s life from human trafficking.

Supervisory officer Angeleah Davis received a call from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and was asked to be on the lookout for a passenger who may be coming through a security checkpoint in IAH Terminal C. Davis promptly relayed the information to TSA officer Joshua Blien, who was working as the travel document checker, and advised him to keep a close eye for anyone matching the passenger’s name.

Sometime later, the passenger arrived at officer Blien’s podium, and Blien instantly recognized the name from the passport that was presented. Blien notified his supervisor, Mark Hurtado, who noted that the passport’s security features seemed slightly different than normal. He also noticed that the passenger was a minor and notified Customs and Border Protection.

When CBP officers arrived, they reviewed the passport and confirmed Hurtado’s suspicions. Because the passenger was not fluent in English or Spanish, they brought him to one of their translators for help.

The following day, CBP notified IAH that the passenger was flagged as part of an ongoing investigation and that the actions of the three TSA officers helped save the minor’s life from human trafficking. The Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of HSI reached out to Terminal C transportation security manager Steroula Gotch and commended her team for their extraordinary actions in protecting the minor passenger.

“The outstanding actions by officers Davis, Blien and Hurtado are to be commended,” said deputy assistant federal security director for screening Candice Villafone. “This is a true success story of partnership and phenomenal team work.”

TSA requires the workforce and members of the federal air marshal service to complete human trafficking awareness training.