27-year-old found with 12-year-old who triggered Amber Alert is now wanted for felony smuggling

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, April 5, 2024
Man found with missing 12-year-old girl now wanted for smuggling
Sirterryon Preston, initially charged with evading after his March 1 arrest in Columbus, Texas, now faces a smuggling charge tied to an Amber Alert.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A month after a 12-year-old girl was found safe, the man she was with has been charged with smuggling.

Sirterryon Preston, 27, has a warrant for his arrest for a "smuggling of persons" charge, which is a felony.

On March 1, law enforcement arrested Preston near a gas station in Columbus, Texas, 75 miles from the girl's Missouri City home. The FBI, assisting the Houston Police Department, tracked her tablet. Court records state she was in the front seat of Preston's box truck, covered by a blanket, and an AR-15 rifle was nearby.

The girl had been the subject of an Amber Alert. ABC13 is no longer identifying her. She was unharmed. She had been missing for eight days.

A neighbor's surveillance video showed her entering a truck outside her home on Feb. 22. The girl's mother was the one who reported her missing after she went to check on her in her bedroom and found her gone.

New court documents detail what the mother told police happened next.

According to court records, the mother said a man contacted her, saying he met the girl through the dating app "Tagged" and that she was posing as a 19-year-old. When police contacted the man, court records state he told them he dropped her back off at home because he realized she was underage. Then, he contacted her mother, claiming innocence.

Meantime, the girl was still missing.

Police triggered the Amber Alert. With the assistance of the FBI, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Columbus police, they found her and Preston in Columbus. He was initially charged only with evading.

According to records, Preston told an FBI agent he picked up the girl near a McDonald's in Houston, knew she had been reported missing, and transported her across county lines.

On Thursday night, the girl's mother told ABC13 she was unaware of the charges. Her daughter is safe at home.

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