CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Representatives from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, came together Wednesday and Thursday to target potential human traffickers and aid victims during the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 Race.
“Criminals often capitalize on large, special events to conduct illicit activity, including the trafficking of human beings,” said John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte. “HSI conducts victim-centered trafficking investigations where the rescue and stabilization of victims is just as important as the prosecution of traffickers.”
As part of the operation, law enforcement teams engaged with more than 15 potential human trafficking victims and gathered intelligence on potential traffickers. Eleven victims agreed to provide details on their situations to law enforcement, and several victims were paired with victim service representatives who can help the victims rebuild their lives through access to housing, medical care, legal assistance, transportation and more. None of the victims were charged related to the circumstances surrounding their initial contact with law enforcement. One individual, being investigated as a potential trafficker, was arrested on state charges of felony possession with intent to distribute narcotics after he dropped off a victim. Two additional subjects were arrested on outstanding warrants.
Participating investigative agencies included: Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office, the York County Sheriff’s Office and the Rock Hill Police Department. An FBI victim specialist and nonprofit organizations, A21, Present Age Ministries, and My Safe Haven, provided victim services.
Recognizing human trafficking indicators is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. HSI encourage the public to report suspected human trafficking to its tip line by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by submitting a tip online at www.ICE.gov/tips. The tip line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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