Attorney General releases annual human trafficking report

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Attorney General Alan Wilson released the “2022 Human Trafficking Task Force Annual Report” at the State House.

The report details prevention and response to human trafficking in South Carolina.

“In 2022, we saw a substantial increase in reports of labor trafficking and the number of children identified as sex trafficking victims,” says Wilson.

According to the report, SLED supported 416 cases involving human trafficking in the state in 2022 including nearly 400 victims who are minors.

SLED’s efforts led to the arrest of 13 sex buyers.

Wilson says the typical idea you might see in movies of human trafficking involving someone being kidnapped isn’t usually what happens.

“That myth got busted. Human trafficking happens on Main Street here in SC. It usually happens with close friends or family members — relatives — someone who knows the victim.

Kat Wehunt is a survivor of human trafficking and the founder of “The Formation Project.” She says if you are a victim of human trafficking and need to know what first step you can take, to reach out to a local non-profit organization or domestic violence shelter. Wehunt says the organizations will help guide you.

“Our biggest concern is that you are happy and you are healthy and that you are living a life free from violence. So reach out, you will be the expert in your recovery and we’re just gonna walk alongside you in that journey,” Wehunt says.

South Carolina’s First Lady, Peggy McMaster says ending human trafficking is a joint effort, saying, “Together we can protect the vulnerable and eliminate the traumatic impact of human trafficking on our people and our communities.”

According to the task force, Greenville County has the highest number of trafficking situations reported with 18 cases being called in to the National Hotline in 2022.

Richland County has the third highest with 13 and Lexington County has the seventh highest with three.

The task force also reports a 44% increase in victims who identify as Latinx.

If you’re a victim of human trafficking or believe you know someone who is, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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