Man Arrested 9 Months After Girl Trafficked


American Airlines Center | Image by Philip Lange

A man allegedly involved in the sex trafficking of a local teenager who disappeared from the American Airlines Center in April 2022 has been arrested.

Emanuel Jose Cartagena, 33, was arrested and booked into the Williamson County Jail on an $81,000 bond. Law enforcement agents with the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force took him into custody last Thursday on outstanding warrants for sexual assault of a child and marijuana possession, according to court records.

The Dallas Express could not confirm with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department if Cartagena was being transferred to the custody of Dallas City or County authorities.

In a statement provided to The Dallas Express, Zeke Fortenberry, the victim’s family’s attorney, said:

“On behalf of the victim and her parents, we are pleased to learn that Emanuel Cartagena has been arrested for sexual assault of a child. We believe Cartagena to be the man who originally lured the victim from the Dallas Mavericks game at the American Airlines Center before sexually assaulting her in Dallas.”

The teenage victim was subsequently transported to Oklahoma, where authorities found her 10 days later at a hotel. Eight individuals were arrested at the time on human trafficking charges and outstanding warrants, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

“With no Dallas arrests in the nine months since she was sexually assaulted, it has been agonizing for the victim and her parents. The arrest of Cartagena is progress toward seeing that justice is done … We hope that the other suspects related to her sexual assault in Dallas will also be arrested in the near future,” said Fortenberry, seemingly suggesting there were more perpetrators who have yet to be identified or arrested by authorities.

The Dallas Express reached out to the Dallas Police Department (DPD) and asked if there were any outstanding suspects yet to be arrested.

A spokesperson for the department replied, “We are unable to clarify those details as they are part of the ongoing investigation.”

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the victim’s family voiced outrage over what they claim was negligence on the part of stadium security, DPD, and the North Richland Hills Police Department.

The victim’s father, Kyle Morris, told WFAA last month that he was angry about the responses he got when he tried to report his daughter missing.

He claimed that all security guards were not made aware of his daughter’s disappearance and that DPD told him to go home and file a missing person’s report with North Richland Hills police since that is where they lived. After the family did so, authorities there allegedly said they could not investigate the matter because she went missing in Dallas.

“There is some frustration and anger at those officers, particularly the one that sent me home that night,” Morris told WFAA.

Morris’ daughter was taken in City Councilman Jesse Moreno’s District 2. Moreno’s district tied with District 6 for the most reported crimes in November. Moreno won the Crime Boss of the Month title back-to-back for October and November last year.

Offenses related to prostitution, sexual assault, and human trafficking have skyrocketed since the new year, with the City clocking 79 offenses so far this year, which is 79.5% more than the 44 reported offenses logged by DPD during the same period last year, according to the City of Dallas Open Data crime analytics dashboard.

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