‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’: This Sex Trafficking Ring Theory Changes Everything

It’s not easy to watch the Netflix documentary The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. More horrific than fiction, the true crime documentary follows the McCann family and teams of investigators as they try to piece together exactly what happened when the adorable 3-year-old British toddler went missing from her bed on a family vacation.

Whether you have kids or not, it’s heartbreaking to watch McCann’s parents as they tearfully plead for their daughter’s safe return. The McCanns chose not to be part of the Netflix documentary, but that doesn’t change the fact that it could lead to the eventual capture of the culprit. Because there are people out there whole believe that Madeleine is still alive out there somewhere.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine McCann | Handout/Getty Images

What happened to Madeleine McCann?

On May 3, 2007, 3-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bed while her parents were dining at a nearby tapas restaurant. The family was on vacation in Praia da Luz, Portugal and the little girl was sleeping in a room with her twin siblings nearby. She was never seen again.

One newspaper described the frenzy surrounding the case as “the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history.” But Madeleine McCann’s case is just one of thousands. Why did it receive so much attention?

Perhaps it’s because of the tragic nature of the crime. Or how the clues were so confusing. No matter the reason, people became obsessed with figuring out what happened to Madeleine McCann. Now almost 12 years later, they’re still looking for her.

Where is Madeleine McCann now?

One of the biggest reasons Madeleine McCann’s parents haven’t given up hope is because there is no evidence of foul play. Obviously, a body was never recovered. The UK’s Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley confirms this theory, saying there is no “definitive evidence” that Madeleine is dead.

There are many theories about what happened to Madeleine. But one of the most popular is that the little girl was sold into a sex trafficking ring – which is terrible to think about, but also may prove that Madeleine McCann is still alive.

Kate and Gerry McCann
Kate and Gerry McCann | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

As investigators in the docuseries pointed out, Madeleine was “high value” for sex traffickers and pedophiles since she was a white child from a wealthy country. And sex trafficking through Portugal is on the rise, especially since the country offers access to Brazil, Eastern Europe, and North Africa.

Age progression technology can help with the search for Madeleine, since she obviously looks much different now than she did when she was taken. There was one such sighting near Mauritania, West Africa, which the United States recognizes as a hotbed of sex trafficking and forced labor activity.

Will the Netflix documentary help the investigation?

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann refused to participate in the Netflix documentary because they were afraid it would hurt the open investigation. But producers are hoping it has the opposite effect.

The more people that see images of Madeleine – what she looked like then and what she may look like now – the better a chance there is of finding her. And then her parents can have closure at last.