KTTC, December 2, 2016
Authorities say they still don’t know why Sherri Papini was abducted by two Hispanic women, but some outside experts say there are tell-tale clues in this case that they believe, suggest a chilling motive.
Her suspected kidnappers, two armed Hispanic women who spoke mainly in Spanish and concealed their faces, their motive, authorities say, still a mystery.
But NBC News spoke to multiple experts not involved in the Sheriff’s investigation who believe this case has classic signs of human trafficking.
“I thought trafficked as soon as I heard branding. That’s the number one thing that we look for in a traffic victim is a brand,” said Rebecca Bender, a National Expert on Human Trafficking and a former victim.
Bender theorizes the kidnappers mistook the young-looking Papini for a teen, the typical targets of traffickers, then panicked when seeing her face on the national news.
Experts say the area near where Panini was abducted, known as the “Emerald Triangle” is a hot-bed for drug cartels and sex rings.
Private investigator Bill Garcia worked with Papini’s family during her disappearance, and specialized in sex trafficking cases. He says her Spanish-speaking captors and the M-O used on her are signatures of Mexican cartels.
“The chains, as opposed to zip ties or handcuffs, the brutal beating and her hair, these are all earmarks of something that I’ve seen happen south of the boarded,” said Garcia.