Human Trafficking: A Growing Problem In NC

Officials say human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world, and it's and growing.

Detectives say human trafficking is so underground that it's difficult to track and sometimes difficult to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Some call human trafficking, either for sex or for labor, a 21st century version of slavery.

North Carolina established a task force to abolish human trafficking, and the task force is based at the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.

"We recognize that we have a problem here,” says Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks. “I recognize on the eastern seaboard, we're centrally located between I-95 and Highway 264, and the population here concerns us, that we need aggressive task force to go after the violations."

Sheriff Neil Elks came into the Pitt County Sheriff's Office in 2010 with a Human Trafficking Task Force already in place, established as one of two in our state.

"The key is getting law enforcement trained other emergency personnel, Social Services, that can be trained to recognize the signs," says Pam Strickland, the co-founder of Eastern Carolina STOP Human Trafficking NOW organization.

The Pitt County Task Force used grant funds from the Department Of Justice to educate the public about the various forms of trafficking. Officials say trafficking is now a $35 billion trade worldwide.

There is legislation in progress now to help victims of human trafficking, but funding for these initiatives are up for discussion in Congress.

In North Carolina, legislation to create a committee to monitor the number of trafficking case in our state stalled during the session. Therefore, statistics of trafficking are currently not available for our state.

For more information on trafficking, click the link below.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Johnny Jones Location: Blounts Creek on Jul 24, 2011 at 05:37 AM
    Thank you for a great job and informative story on Human Trafficking. We are playing it today at South Point Community Church as we have Chris Smith and Anna Tripp Smith with us today, missionaries to human trafficking.
  • by It's Apparent on Jul 20, 2011 at 07:04 PM
    Well, we just need a government program. Millions/billions spent to "fix" this crisis. I see another bureaucracy forming and those pontificating the loudest here are the ones who will probably be working for it. AND to preserve their jobs it will always be a crisis that they will never solve.
    • reply
      by Crisis Never Solved? on Jul 20, 2011 at 07:33 PM in reply to It's Apparent
      You mean like the NAACP?
  • by Lurking Location: Ayden on Jul 20, 2011 at 02:09 PM
    Most human trafficking is done by illegals. Why not enforce laws that are already on the books? This will eliminate and / or reduce the root cause. Our all mighty politicians cant or won't enforce immigrations laws so they look for other programs to spend our tax dollars on.
  • by Upset resident on Jul 20, 2011 at 12:58 PM
    The sad reality is that the PD will only enforce the "crimes" which make them money. Can you say 40 year failed drug war? Non violent drug offenses make up a majority of their funding and time. In fact, I know for a fact that the head of this human trafficking at the G-ville sheriffs works a mostly on enforcing drug (mostly cannabis) related offenses. But I guess when you can legally steal other people’s money, property and charge them with erroneous and dishonest cannabis taxes it’s an easy choice. After all they may actually have to work if they put any time and effort on real crimes (like the human trafficking and shootings) that hurt people. And we can’t have police doing real work that protects people when there is money to be made. I’m sure though, that after another 40 years of billions of wasted funding we’ll get this “drug” problem under control and then we’ll all be safe (note the sarcasm).
    • reply
      by exactly on Jul 20, 2011 at 05:02 PM in reply to Upset resident
      yes, i think the police should definitely turn the other way when it comes to importing drugs from other countries who clearly have the good citizens of the US best interest at heart. and the dealers are good upstanding people who really care about their customers well being. and the customers who support this drug trade are top citizens, very productive and have very functional families. so, it wouldnt protect anyone at all to treat these wonderful,unselfish, and caring people, as if they were common criminals. after all, im sure if they could pay taxes on it, they definitely would.NOTE THE SARCASM...
  • by KNM on Jul 20, 2011 at 09:30 AM
    Polaris Project is an organization working to combat human trafficking in the United States. It also operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with live call specialists standing by. For more information on resources and cases in North Carolina, check out the Polaris Project state map: http://www.polarisproject.org/state-map/north-carolina.
    • reply
      by Theresa on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:43 AM in reply to KNM
      I read the link that WITN provided and so should all of us. It is not only about catching the crimianl...there is so much more like prevention, awarness, helping victims who are found, and the list goes on. It can and does happen in the least likely places. I'm sure Jaycee Dugard would have appreciated someone with the knowledge to recognize the signs and helped her. Read her book and you will gain first-hand insight to some of it.
  • by Trina Location: abu dhabi uae on Jul 20, 2011 at 08:38 AM
    I find it really really hard to believe that Pitt County has a problem so huge in human trafficking, that all these funds have been allocated to support this task force. How many human traffickers have been apprehended in Pitt County? I understand it is a big international problem but really Pitt County? Kidnapped and sold into slavery? really? \
    • reply
      by ? on Jul 20, 2011 at 10:04 AM in reply to Trina
      You'd be surprised about what goes right in front of you, some people will do whatever it takes to make a dollar, even if that means to destroy someone else’s life. Those types of people are everywhere, so yes Pitt County as well.
      • reply
        by sue on Jul 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM in reply to ?
        I agree, they are all over the place. Look around and see if something doesn't look right even if it seem very small, you just never know what is going on under your nose.
  • by ace Location: j ville on Jul 20, 2011 at 06:56 AM
    Does this include people that cross our borders illegaly and then the government supports them with law abiding citizens tax money?
  • by here Location: here on Jul 20, 2011 at 06:48 AM
    Human beings are so evil sometimes it makes me sick.
  • by Puh-Leez on Jul 20, 2011 at 06:38 AM
    The headline says there is a growing problem of human trafficking in NC, yet fails to list a single case of this crime in our state? What's up with that?
    • reply
      by It's Apparent on Jul 20, 2011 at 07:08 PM in reply to Puh-Leez
      It's a CRISIS and we must ACT NOW with a new program (bureaucracy) and government must do something (i.e. hire all us egghead with degrees that cannot get jobs) to save the world!! Unfortunately we will never solve the problem because government will just not spend enough and hire enough people!
      • reply
        by Puh-Leez on Jul 21, 2011 at 04:05 PM in reply to It's Apparent
        Ohhhh.
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Jul 20, 2011 at 06:16 AM
    A couple of these posts remind me of an acronym I haven't seen used in a long time. NIMBY. Not In My Back Yard. The problem with that attitude is that some people are narrowing it down to literally their own teeny little yard space. So, you're going to sit and do nothing, and not care at all until it is you or a loved one that is a victim of this crime. You don't care about anyone else that has been affected by it, neighbor or fellow resident, or not. Amazing.
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