Last year South Carolina was recognized as the most improved state combating human trafficking by Shared Hope International. Shared Hope International releases a report card each year regarding the status of each state.
“As I kept hearing the stories—after they have been gone for days—it started adding up like this was a plot,” said Ms. Cleveland, who runs a group called It’s On Me 2. “Someone knew what they were doing in order to get these girls.”
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.
Kenneth Hutto, 46, of Summerville, S.C., trafficked a female for sex commerce between South Carolina and Georgia. An undercover deputy in Georgia responded to an advertisement on backpage.com that showed the victim with bruises on her backside. Through text message the deputy was told to meet Hutto at a motel.
South Carolina law requires posting of human trafficking awareness posters in hotels, bars and airports.Now, posters with the human trafficking hotline and other awareness information are in stalls in the men’s and women’s restrooms of Colonial Life Arena for college basketball’s biggest annual event.
Olabi, 22, of Raleigh, N.C. caused parents to be concerned over a year ago when he was recruiting teens to work part time with the Carolina Youth Club. He’s now arrested after a routine traffic stop outside of Wellford, South Carolina that led to the discovery of a kidnapped 13-year-old girl. “Certainly her age was cause for concern and the girl’s attire was also a red flag. “She was not dressed appropriately for the weather, Officer R.A. Smith said.
A small, spiral-bound notebook stays with a Greenville woman wherever she goes. For the past month, she’s been filling up the pages, growing her “thankful list.” She’s thankful to be alive. Thankful for a second chance. Thankful for a roof over her head. Thankful for a hot shower. It’s a new season of life for the 34-year-old since leaving a lifestyle of prostitution and drug abuse that began at a young age. The woman is one of five embarking on a two-year recovery program in Greenville that pulls survivors out of human sex trafficking, an industry that’s become a hidden epidemic across the U.S. and in South Carolina, particularly in the Upstate where Interstate 85 connects Atlanta to Charlotte, two of the nation’s trafficking hotbeds.
Greenville County Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown and Greenville police Chief Ken Miller announced Friday that hundreds of warrants were signed and more than 20 people were arrested during “Operation Intercept.”
A group of men were sentenced today in United States District Court in Charleston for their roles in a conspiracy to force underage girls and young women into sex trafficking throughout the southeast, and one of them was from Florence, according to a news release from United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon.