AG Wilson: Nearly 15% increase in human trafficking cases reported across SC

South Carolina News

EDITOR’S NOTE: The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office revised information provided to the media on Monday saying the state saw a 50% increase in reported human trafficking cases. The new number provided was revised to 15%. News 2 has updated this story to reflect that number.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Attorney General Alan Wilson released the state’s annual human trafficking report for 2021 which shows three Lowcountry counties are within the top 10 for reported cases.

The report shows what the state is doing to combat human trafficking, how many cases have been reported, and the top counties for reported human trafficking.

Wilson, who serves as chair of the South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force, said the state saw a near 15% increase in the number of victims reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

“We are seeing a steady increase in the number of children and youth who have been identified by DSS as victims,” said Wilson.

Based on court data, Wilson said six people were charged with human trafficking in state courts last year; overall, 31 charges were closed in state courts. There are 52 human trafficking cases pending in SC state courts.

Wilson also shared a top 10 list of counties where human trafficking cases have been reported the most – it includes three Lowcountry counties.

1 – Horry County

2 – Richland County

3 – Greenville County

4 – Charleston County

5 – Spartanburg County

6 – Anderson County

7 – York County

8 – Dorchester County

9 – Greenwood County

10 – Wilson said there was a six-way tie between Aiken, Cherokee, Colleton, Florence, Lexington, and Orangeburg counties.

“If you’re in one of these top-ten counties, that’s not saying this is where the most human trafficking is occurring, that’s saying where most of the human trafficking is being reported,” he explained. “You can have a county with a very low report number, but a lot of activity and people just don’t know about it.”

The task force is kicking off a prevention education initiative this year which will offer year-round opportunities the attorney general’s office said will help young people become more aware of the complexities of the crime.

The prevention education program was designed for middle and high schools, youth-serving agencies, faith groups, and child welfare agencies.

“As we seek additional resources to meet the needs of minor victims in our state, we must also try to protect those who have not yet been victimized,” Kathryn Moorehead, Coordinator of the State Task Force said. “The best approach is to educate young people through age-appropriate, comprehensive lesson plans.”

You can report an incident or seek victim services by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. AG Wilson’s office said the hotline is confidential and open 24/7.

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