CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – State and federal resources came together in Charleston to conduct Operation Lighthouse, a multi-tiered approach to combat human trafficking in the Lowcountry.

Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) spearheaded the effort.

Human trafficking is a problem in high-volume areas like Charleston. Tourism and local events have large amounts of people coming and going to the area.

Months in the making, Operation Lighthouse focused on outreach, partnership, and targeting.

“We started with outreach and training,” said Scott Crabb, the assistant HSI Special Agent in charge. “So, we trained other state and local law enforcement officers, the private sector so through the hospitality industry, the transportation industry, provide them awareness and training so they could begin looking for indicators of trafficking within their sectors.”

The targeting portion put officers on the streets, in the air, and on the sea to try and find victims and offenders of human trafficking.

Statistics from HSI show that during Phase 1 of Operation Lighthouse, four human trafficking victims were identified. One adult, one teenager, and two children were rescued. Victim services have been rendered.

HSI reported $10,000 in cash and three firearms were seized. Seven other individuals were arrested for human trafficking or other serious crimes.

HSI partnered with the following agencies during Operation Lighthouse.

  • South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Charleston County Sheriff’s Office
  • City of Charleston Police Department
  • North Charleston Police Department
  • Mount Pleasant Police Department
  • Horry County Police Department
  • SC Department of Public Safety- Highway Patrol
  • Charleston County Aviation Authority
  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • United States Coast Guard
  • Customs and Border Protection