IRVING, Tx. — A couple is in custody facing charges of human trafficking after a teen escaped Sunday from a residence where she was being kept against her will for prostitution, police said.
Officers in Irving aren’t saying how she escaped, only that when she did, she called Police, and led them to the apartment where she and another teen were being held.
America Anderson, 20, and Devanshu Gupta, 26, were arrested leaving the apartment in the 200 block of Rolston Road and taken into custody by Irving Police on Sunday.
The teen told investigators she was kidnapped from California and forced into prostitution in North Texas. Irving Police say the teen was lured by her captors through Instagram.
Court records show the teens say they were sold for sex on several sites, and that both Anderson and Gupta assaulted them. Irving Police say they included Backpage.com, which was recently shut down, along with MeetMe, Plenty of Fish and the sports website Scout.
Neighbors in the small complex said they had wondered about their neighbors in Unit 8, but never expected this.
"I did notice it was a few younger girls, in their teens, I didn’t see anybody who looked like a parent," said one woman, who asked that we not use her name. "They’d come outside in really revealing clothing, and they’d always leave together and come back together."
That same neighbor remembers seeing Anderson often.
"I never saw the man, but [Anderson], I would see with them all the time," she said. "I thought she was an older sister."
Anderson and Gupta are now in the Irving City Jail facing four charges including sex trafficking and compleling prostitution. Each is being held on a $350,000 dollar bond.
For perspective on how girls can be lured into the trafficking world, we spoke with Carla, who runs Sparkle Living, a group that runs a transitional home for victims of sex trafficking.
"It is a misconception that these girls that are in the realms of prostitution are there by choice," said Carla.
She was not surprised that Anderson and Gupta allegedly used Instagram to befriend and groom their victims.
"They leave their Instagram accounts open because they want to be popular," she said. "What they don’t realize and what the parents don’t realize is they’re being stalked and shopped by people who intend to sell them.
A 2017 study from the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas found that there are almost 79,000 youth victims of sex trafficking in the state of Texas.