VANCOUVER, Wash. – The search has expanded for a teen whose family believes was targeted by a sex-trafficking ring.
Isabella Castillo, 16, has not been seen for two weeks. Her family fears that with all the attention the case has received, Isabella may have been taken out of the area.
Isabella’s aunt, Cymany O’Brien, said her family continues to search every day. They passed out about 3,500 fliers at truck stops and rest stops along the Interstate.
“We did not encounter very many people yesterday who had not heard about her already,” said O’Brien. “Most people were like ‘Oh yeah, I saw this on Facebook.’ One picture has been shared over 40,000 times. It’s just unreal.”
O’Brien said Isabella texted her every day, but after a small family argument, the last text she received from her niece indicated she was safe, but unable to text anymore. O’Brien believes someone else sent the text.
Her family thinks Isabella is caught up in sex trafficking because one of her friends told them they'd seen her around with another girl who may be involved with the local sex-trafficking world. That girl is used by sex traffickers to recruit other girls. She lures them in by befriending them, grooms them and gets them to run away. The girls are never heard from again.
“You sit and you start wondering and thinking about where she is, what can be happening to her. It really takes a toll on you,” O’Brien said. “So I’m really trying hard to stay in the moment and focus on the facts that we know.”
The trouble is, the family doesn’t have many facts, but that hasn’t stopped O’Brien from planning for Isabella to come back home.
“There is always hope because you never know when that one person is going to see her, and remember and make a phone call and we get her back. So I will never give up hope.”