HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – Quick thinking by an Indiana State Police trooper means two boys from Guatemala are safe, and a case of human trafficking was stopped in its tracks.
The children were apparently sold to pay off a family debt. It happened at around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, on Interstate 70 eastbound in Hancock County. An SUV with a Texas license plate with two men and two children–about 12 and 13 years old–was heading to Ohio.
Romulo Molina, 26, of Honduras was driving.
“He was following too close to a vehicle in front of him,” says Trooper Matthew Wilson, a 6 1/2 year veteran and K-9 handler with the Indiana State Police. He made the stop.
“One of the occupants said it was the driver’s kids and the driver said it was not his kids. It was some kids of a friend he had known. And when I asked him his friend’s name, he couldn’t tell me,” said Trooper Wilson.
The story from Molina and the adult passenger wasn’t adding up. So, Trooper Wilson had the vehicle pull into a nearby McDonald’s parking lot. He called Homeland Security.
Using a translation app on his phone he was able to talk a little to the kids. He bought them cheeseburgers and they relaxed.
“During the interview with them they admitted that they had left Guatemala where their parents were and were to come to Columbus, Ohio to pay a debt that their father and family had owed down there,” said Wilson.
Trooper Wilson figured they’d been on the road, non-stop for four days. Molina was arrested after the kids, who were cousins, gave police a phone number to one of their dads. The dad admitted to paying Molina to smuggle the kids to Ohio.
Trooper Wilson says he was just doing his job.
“It was a normal traffic stop that I do every day that turned into what I have now,” says Trooper Wilson.
It turns out there’s even more to the story. Trooper Wilson found a ledger on Molina with names, phone numbers and amounts of money. It’s likely Molina has been doing this for a long time. The ledger is now in the hands of Homeland Security, and so is the passenger who apparently paid Molina to smuggle him into Indianapolis. The boys are with Child Protective Services.