Brave sex-trafficking survivor reveals her ordeal and how NYPD saved her

Angiie was forced into prostitution when she was 15. She was forced to have sex with no fewer than 25 men a day. She shared her story with Fox 5. Angiie wants to keep her identity private but shared her story in the hopes of helping other young girls.

She said she was living in a foster care group home in Queens when she was abducted at gunpoint near the home.

"The guys jumped out. Four of them. They grabbed me and put me in the van," Angiie said. "They took me to a basement and in less than an hour, there was already a customer."

The foster care home reported to police that Angiie was missing, but her captors wanted to make sure people would not recognize her. Angiie said they cut and dyed her hair and that you couldn't tell it was her.

She said the pimps, a man and a woman, sold her for sex and even crossed state lines. She said they brought her to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

And Angiie said her pimps beat her when she refused to try to recruit younger girls from middle school.

"They tried to get me to convince them to become prostitutes," she said.

A couple of months after Angiie was abducted, a clerk at a Brooklyn hotel recognized her as the missing girl and called the police. Then the NYPD's Human Trafficking Team entered Angiie's life.

Lt. Christopher Sharpe is the commanding officer of the Vice Enforcement Division Human Trafficking Team.

"The average age for commercial sex exploitation is 13 years old," Sharpe said. "We had a case where we did a rescue as young as a 12-year-old girl in a hotel room."

Sharpe uses the word "rescue" because the NYPD is no longer arresting girls and boys under the age of 18 for prostitution. And for those 18 and over, an arrest is determined on a case-by-case basis.

"We understand you're a trafficking victim," Sharpe said. "We're going to try to help you."

In 2016, the NYPD changed its approach to dealing with prostitution and began connecting victims with counselors and social services agencies to help guide survivors out of forced prostitution. The NYPD is helping victims obtain job training, housing, medical care, and childcare.

New York Courts have been taking that same approach since 2013 with human trafficking courts statewide. These are the first in the country.

"People are really in need of help and not in need of a criminal conviction and a traditional punishment," Judge Charlotte Davidson said.  

Staff in the courthouse can immediately help sex trafficking victims, she said.

"Whether that means helping them find housing, giving them counseling, treatment for trauma, health care, education, job training, job placement," Davidson said.  

As part of its new approach, the NYPD has also joined forces with the FBI and Homeland Security using artificial intelligence to go after the Johns—the men buying sex.

"We now live online," Sharpe said.

The NYPD is using bots to post fake ads online for sex and the bots are having conversations with the potential buyers in English and Spanish.

Once a John responds to the fake ads with his cell phone, he gets a surprise text message from the Human Trafficking Team letting him know that what he is doing is illegal. The John now realizes the NYPD knows who he is and that if he shows up for a date he will be arrested.

Last year, the NYPD sent more than 6,000 of these texts.

The NYPD has also trained its 5,000 school safety agents to spot behavior that could signal a student is being trafficked for sex. Something as simple as having two cell phones could be a clue.

"Some of those phones are working numbers," Sharpe said. "That's the working phone. That's for the business."

With the help of the Human Trafficking Team, Angiie was able to testify before a grand jury against her pimps. The man and woman went to prison. She also continues to have a close relationship with the female detective who helped guide her out of forced prostitution.

"She's more of like a mentor," Angiie said. "If I ever need to vent, I can call her—it doesn't matter what time."

Angiie, who is now 20, is also going to college at CUNY to become either a social worker, a therapist or a police officer to help other sex-trafficking victims.

"You're not the only one—you have the support," she said. "Someone cares."

If you or someone you know has been forced into prostitution and needs help, you can call the NYPD's trafficking hotline at 646-610-7272. You can even email the police at VED@NYPD.ORG.