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‘It’s an underground crime’: SC, local leaders relaunching human trafficking effort

FBI underage sex trafficking crackdown leads to recovery of 84 minors

FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites.
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FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites.

A new task force relaunching in the Grand Strand area has a goal to educate the community on how to identify human trafficking.

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office will relaunch the Coastal Region Task Force on July 26, and the public has a chance to be a part of efforts to prevent trafficking.

“We’ve got to stand up shoulder to shoulder — every sector,” said attorney general office volunteer Patty Jackson.

The public is invited to meet from 10 a.m. to noon in the main courtroom at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center, 1101 Oak St., Myrtle Beach, and gain awareness of human trafficking symptoms and be a part of making plans to prevent trafficking.

Jackson defines human trafficking as someone being coerced, forced or tricked into doing something he or she does not want to do. Those things can be forced labor or sex.

The community — from doctors to teachers to police officers — should be aware of the symptoms in order to help victims, she said.

“We literally have a nanosecond to do something when we see it,” Jackson said. “It’s an underground crime.”

Symptoms can include someone being “totally controlled” and manipulated by another person, whether it be at a bar or a soda machine, she said.

Jackson said if a person sees symptoms, and is able to speak with the victim, he or she should ask the victim questions like, “Are you being forced to do something you don’t want to do?” “Are you in trouble?” or “Do you need help?”

The July 26 meeting will give people the opportunity to meet state and regional leaders in the anti-human trafficking field, learn more about trafficking and volunteer opportunities.

For more information about resources, visit humantrafficking.scag.gov. If you suspect human trafficking or are a victim, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Hannah Strong: 843-444-1765, @HannahLStrong

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