The story Cindy McCain told Monday on an Arizona radio show was unsettling: Just last week, she said, she witnessed human trafficking at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport — a child victim.
She said it was a lesson in the Department of Homeland Security motto: “If you see something, say something.”
“I came in from a trip I’d been on and I spotted — it looked odd,” McCain, co-chair of the governor’s Arizona Human Trafficking Council and widow of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told KTAR News. “It was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn’t click with me. I tell people, trust your gut. I went over to the police and told them what I thought, and they went over and questioned her. And by God, she was trafficking that kid.”
The radio show hosts were aghast.
“No way!” one said.
“And you said a toddler?” the other asked.
“Yes,” McCain said. “A toddler. It was a toddler. She was waiting for the guy who brought the child to get off the airplane.”
But the Phoenix Police Department on Wednesday disputed that any human trafficking had taken place that day in statements to other local Phoenix news outlets, leading McCain to issue an apology.
The longtime advocate for human trafficking victims and the mother of an adopted Bangladeshi daughter, McCain said she hoped the mistake would not deter others from abiding by the DHS motto.
“At Phoenix Sky Harbor, I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking,” she wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ‘if you see something, say something.’ “
Phoenix police told KTAR and CBS 5 on Wednesday that investigators arrived to perform a welfare check on the child at the airport Jan. 30 after McCain’s complaint but found “no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment.”