Seven people were arrested and four people rescued in the first week of an operation intended to crack down on human trafficking in the Charleston area, authorities with Homeland Security Investigations said.
Spokesman Lindsay Williams said on May 26 the seven people were arrested on human trafficking charges or other serious offenses. Though not identified by name because the case is still open, they include:
- A 38-year-old Barnwell man accused of human trafficking, impersonating a police officer and extortion,
- A 27-year-old North Charleston man accused of trafficking cocaine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.
- A 23-year-old California woman accused of unlawful conduct toward a minor and being a fugitive from justice.
Law enforcement officers and participating agencies in the operation were able to provide services to four victims of human trafficking, including two children and an adolescent girl.
Officers also seized $10,000 in cash and three firearms.
The arrests were made as part of Operation Lighthouse, an HSI campaign to raise public awareness about human trafficking in the area.
As part of the campaign, which began May 19, HSI agents and local law enforcement officers have been monitoring the area’s hotels, boats and airports for signs of human trafficking. The agency is also educating employees — hotel workers, bank tellers, nurses — on how to spot signs of human trafficking.
HSI Supervisory Agent Scott Crabb said he had hoped to identify more cases this week, but he was happy about the partnerships the agency was able to build in the community and the increased awareness of the issue.