Lodi, CA – A human trafficking victim mouthed “help me” to a McDonalds employee while in the drive-thru line and ended up being rescued by police on Dec. 24.
The victim went into McDonalds at about 2 p.m. and told an employee at the counter to call 911 while also giving the employee the license plate of the vehicle she was in and asked the employee to hide her, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman used the restroom and was going to place an order but the suspect, Eduardo Valenzuela, was nearby and told her she had to use the drive-thru, according to police.
While in the drive thru, the woman made her “help me” plea as deputies arrived inside the McDonalds and spoke to employees.
The employees rushed the deputies outside where they said the woman that needed help was still in the drive-thru line, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
The woman was driving the vehicle, which turned out to be stolen. Deputies stopped the car while Valenzuela was in the passenger seat.
While investigating, police discovered that Valenzuela had told her to take him to visit his family and threatened her life. He had a gun in the trunk of the car and had threatened to use it, according to police.
Valenzuela was booked and taken to jail for criminal threats, stolen property, and felon in possession of a firearm, according to the police.
CNN reported that Valenzuela’s bail was set at $360,000.
The Golden State Restaurant Group owns the McDonalds location the victim sought help. Each of its restaurants is certified under the Safe Place program, which is a national youth and prevention program for “young people in need of immediate help and safety,” CNN reported.