SC Human Trafficking Annual Report Shows Huge Increase in Number of Victims

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Monday, January 13th, 2020

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the release of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force’s 2019 Annual Report at the Statehouse. The report details the efforts of the State Task Force to protect victims, prosecute traffickers, and prevent human trafficking from happening in South Carolina. Attorney General Wilson welcomed representatives from state agencies, state and federal law enforcement, regional task forces, nonprofits, and communities across South Carolina to share in the report’s release.

Attorney General Wilson reported a 360% increase in the total number of trafficking victims recorded in South Carolina as well as an increase in the number of human trafficking cases reported in the state. He also noted a shift from the previous year in the top five counties reported for human trafficking. The top county for human trafficking in South Carolina is now Horry County, followed in order by Greenville, Richland, Dorchester, and Charleston counties.

“The large increase in victims recorded speaks to efforts across the state to raise awareness of the National Human Trafficking Hotline number so victims know how to reach out for help,” said Attorney General Wilson. “We also recognize that the regional task forces are better educating members of their communities on the issue, which in turn causes shifts in the top five counties each year.”

Along with an increase in trafficking victims, Attorney General Wilson described a rise in the number of labor trafficking cases within the state. In its report, the Task Force announced a number of initiatives to combat this increase, including a 2020 State Task Force Labor Trafficking Roundtable hosted by the Attorney General’s Office and the development of informational materials in English and Spanish to increase awareness of labor trafficking, inform the public of its signs, and provide the National Human Trafficking Hotline number to potential victims.

In addition to presenting new data, Attorney General Wilson announced new partnerships with the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (SCRLA) and the South Carolina Beer Wholesalers Association (SCBWA). The goal of these partnerships is to increase awareness of human trafficking within the hospitality and beer wholesale industries and to train the industries to respond to potential incidents of human trafficking. For example, the SCBWA has put signs on the backs of their delivery trucks that show the Human Trafficking National Hotline, so as those trucks drive around the state to make deliveries, drivers will see the number. That number is 1-888-373-7888.

First Lady of South Carolina Peggy McMaster spoke on the importance of introducing human trafficking prevention education in schools in order to protect South Carolina’s children from falling victim to human trafficking. The First Lady encouraged communities across the state to consider introducing human trafficking prevention education in their schools, churches, and other youth-serving programs.