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How to know if your loved one is a victim of human trafficking

Posted at 6:16 PM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 18:16:42-05

The nationwide search continues for a South Florida woman last seen in California.
It’s been months since anyone has seen or heard from Leah Rose Altmann.

Her mother told us there are certain signs about Leah’s disappearance that she fears point to
possible human trafficking.

“I’ve actually talked to God to say what’s worse? For an independent, smart, beautiful soul to either not be with us or to be harmed an against her will,” said Leah’s mom Lynda Santmaria, who is desperate someone can help shed light on her daughter’s disappearance.

The 27-year-old moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career.
However, on August 29th her LA roommate said she left their apartment with a backpack and never returned.

“What I fear most is that lack of any banking transactions.”

Communication stopped completely around October- November of this year.
Lynda says she now fears because of where leah was living and who she was hanging out with that
she may be a victim of human trafficking.

“What ever you’re doing in life, you need to eat. You need something,” said Sanatmaria.

“This is very very dangerous, for somebody to just leave without any contact and that I would say it’s very very likely that a trafficker is involved in this,” said Lynne Barletta.

Barletta is the found of Catch the Wave of Hope- an organization aiming to raise awareness and abolish human trafficking.

The organization is also behind a Downtown Stuart mural. Barletta is hand painting it herself. The mural is to raise awareness and money to build a home for victims of human trafficking.

Barletta says it’s important to recognize the physical changes, like tattoos, and behavioral changes
like shame and social detachment.

“What’s happening during this time is there is a trafficker whois  grooming them through texting, through social media, through phone calls,” said Barletta.

Meanwhile, Leah's case is an active missing persons case with the LAPD.