Man accused of trafficking teen daughter on flight

Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 12:00:59-05

TEMPE, AZ (KNXV/CNN) - A dad was questioned about human trafficking of his own teenage daughter, after getting off a Southwest flight with his family.

A relaxing vacation with grandparents at the beach came to a screeching halt back home in Phoenix for the Smith family.

"When I walked off the plane I saw two officers standing there," Brian Smith said.

The officers questioned him and his family, bringing up problems of human trafficking.

"He said the flight attendant had some concerns about the person you were with," the dad said.

The family has three biological kids and one adopted daughter from China, 16-year-old Georgianna.

Dad and daughter were sitting together on their Southwest flight. They said they only talked to their attendants about drinks and snack orders, but an attendant apparently became suspicious enough to alert police.

"I don't like to accuse anyone of anything, but I don't believe if Georgianna was a Caucasian child, I don't believe this would have happened," said Renee Smith, her mother.

The family said the teen was sleeping most of the time and can't imagine what behavior alarmed flight attendants.

"She has a communication disorder, so she is more quiet than other children might be in a public space," Renee Smith said.

The family understands the importance of keeping kids safe but hopes it doesn't come at the expense of adoptive families.

"We've never had an issue, but now we'll always be worried something could happen," Renee Smith said.

In a statement, Southwest apologized to the family and added that "their flight attendants do receive training in recognizing human trafficking to put a stop to it."

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