Michael Thomas Bovino, 38, of Mooresville, NC, and nine others were arrested in an online child exploitation investigation involving 13 state and federal law enforcement agencies across North and South Carolina.
Zerrell Fuentes, 25, of Charlotte, NC, made a series of phone calls from inside jail to lay out a plan that had his wife, Brianna Wright, and mother, Tanya Fuentes, travel to Myrtle Beach, check into a hotel, then traffic three female minors as prostitutes in hopes to use the cash for Fuentes’s bail.
North Carolina residents Brianna Wright, 26, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sex-trafficking three minors, and her mother-in-law, Tanya Fuentes, 56, was ordered to serve two years in prison for conspiracy. Wright’s husband, Zerrell Fuentes, arranged the entire scheme from inside the jail to recruit girls to engage in prostitution to earn money for his bail.
Cumberland County, NC officials are taking steps to fight back by creating the first statewide human trafficking court. The court will also provide resources to offenders suspected of being coerced with survival crimes such as prostitution or solicitation.
Unlike the portrayals popularized by Liam Neeson’s 2008 film thriller, human trafficking victims are rarely snatched during vacation getaways or from coffee shops, and they are rarely sympathetic characters with squeaky clean backgrounds, Libby Coles, chairwoman of the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission.
“We have children who have been trafficked,” said Rhonda Morris, who is in her 20th year as executive director of Kids First. “This is something that has been going on for many, many years.” Kids First provides comprehensive services to victims of sexual abuse, ages 18 and younger, in seven area counties. The nonprofit served 270 new children last year, up from 253 the year before, and an average of between 210 and 225 several years before that.
K.R. Rudolph of Raleigh, N.C. is charged with felony human trafficking child victim, felony sexual servitude by using a 14 yr. old child victim and felony to promote prostitution – profits, according to an arrest warrant.
tate Rep. Jon Hardister is drafting legislation for introduction in 2019 that’s meant to help prevent school-age children from falling victim to human trafficking – a problem Hardister and an increasing number of others say is a fast growing threat in North Carolina. Thirty-five states have adopted some form of “Erin’s Law,” which requires schools to teach a prevention-oriented program on sexual abuse and trafficking.
WILMINGTON — The latest statistics put North Carolina as 8th in the nation for human trafficking cases, which include sex trafficking. But what those numbers don’t show is a crime that is more pervasive, more complex, and much closer to home than many expect.
WILMINGTON — The majority of sex trafficking victims may never be identified, but those cases that do get the attention of law enforcement and advocacy groups are diverse, reaching all racial, economic, geographic, and – disturbingly – age groups.