Reports of suspected human trafficking continue to increase across South Carolina, with Greenville County leading the state in the number of calls, according to the latest annual report from the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.
Data included in the report shows the highest concentration of suspected human trafficking incidents in 2022 were centered in the state’s urban areas, namely Greenville (18), Charleston (14), Richland (13), Horry (12) and Spartanburg (5) counties.
The information is derived from calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and the report states the partnership between the hotline and the S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force has led to a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem in the Palmetto State.
There was a 122% increase in the use of the hotline in 2022, and among those reports there was a 450% increase in suspected cases of labor trafficking. Among the victims, there was a 44% increase in those identifying as Latino/Hispanic.
According to the report, the State Law Enforcement Division was involved with 416 cases involving human trafficking in 2022 with the overwhelming majority — 399 — involving minors and 98% of those cases involving sex trafficking. Of those 399 cases involving minors, 312 were female and 87 were male.
Of the 17 cases involving adults, eight were foreign nationals while nine were U.S. citizens. Among the 416 total victims:
- 152 were Latino/Hispanic
- 141 were Caucasian
- 135 were African American
SLED pursued four commercial sex operations across the state in 2022 and arrested 13 individuals suspected of being sex buyers.
Among the initiatives planned for 2023, according to the report, are creating a specialized human trafficking court for youth, expanded prevention education, expanded focus on labor trafficking, and resource mapping.
Possible human trafficking signs
Among the signs that might indicate a person is a victim of human trafficking are:
- Is under 18 and engaged in commercial sex work
- Displays fearful, anxious or submissive behavior
- Lacks freedom of movement or is being closely monitored
- Is dressed inappropriately for the climate or for his/her age
- Shows signs of poor hygiene, malnourishment or fatigue