The North Carolina connection to human trafficking

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina ranks as the 8th most likely state in the United States where human trafficking takes place.

WBTV, and former White House, Cyber Expert Theresa Payton says there are things you can do to keep it from happening to someone you love.

How CyberTraffickers Target Their Victims:

It is hard to believe that, in America, we have people trapped and forced to work as laborers or prostitutes as slaves of human traffickers.  North Carolina has been ranked in the top 8 most common sites for human trafficking.  One of the reasons we are so popular is I85 and I95.

The problem in the U.S. is so serious, that President Barack Obama has declared January - National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

These criminals are using the internet to recruit their next victim and future customers of their slave services.

Human trafficking is the modern day version of slavery.  These criminals force their victims into labor and it can be in any industry.  The most common forms of enslavement include labor, such as farming or working in a sweatshop, and sex trade.

Human traffickers love the I85 and I95 highways in North Carolina and they also use another high speed highway to recruit, enslave, and find new customers-the internet.

Human traffickers target those who are society's most vulnerable, have the quietest voices and find it hard to fight back.  Often, victims include immigrants and children.  Children who are loners or runaways are also a popular target of cybertraffickers.

North Carolina passed a bill in 2007 which makes human trafficking a felony and offers state assistance to victims.

In the last several months there were several cases in human trafficking uncovered in North Carolina.  Human trafficking via the internet to enable their crime rings has long been on the radar of the law enforcement community.


2,300 Arrests:  The FBI has been diligently fighting this evil crime resulting in 2,300 arrests.  They have also recovered 170 kids during sting operations.

15,000-18,000:  The number of people drafted into slavery each year in the U.S.  (Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

2 Million:  Estimated number of people worldwide drafted into slavery via Human Trafficking

A Few Recent NC Cases:

Sex Ring:

April 2009, a man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for operating a human trafficking sex trade between Charlotte and Washington.  Girls were as young as 16 and smuggled in from Mexico.

Child Sex Case – Internet Sting:

June 2009, a Duke University official, was arrested after an Internet sting.  He was charged with trafficking a 5 year old boy for sex.  His name was provided by a defendant in a different trafficking case.

Spa case in Monroe – Ads on Craigslist:

In 2008, a spa in Union County was using Craiglist to advertise services that were offered by people who had been coerced into a human trafficking scheme.

Shaniya Davis – Mother allegedly sold her into sex trade via internet:

In NC we have the pending case and trial regarding the alleged human trafficking of Shaniya Davis.  Her own mother allegedly sold her daughter into the sex trade using the internet to find a buyer and to send messages.  This case should be a wake up call to parents,  teachers, and all caregivers.


Online Ads:  Ads offering great jobs at high pay in big cities.  Often they hide behind ads for modeling, singing, or acting.  Sometimes they will offer to fly the person to the other city for the "interview".

Online Auctions: Craigslist is considered a magnet for international sex trade of children via the adult services section.

Photo Sharing Sites: Bypasses printing photos and allows operations to disseminate photos online for viewing by prospective buyers.

Social Media:  Cybercreeps will use Chatrooms, social sites such as Facebook and MySpace, to recruit or trick kids into joining their trafficking scheme.  They use these sites and blogs to connect to other cybercreeps to barter, trade, and sell their victims.


Many of the warning signs that a child is a victim of trafficking, or is being recruited, are similar to signs that the child is being cyberbullied or being groomed by a pedophile.  They may include one or more of the following:

Unexplained absences

Runs away or discusses running away from home

Exhibits bruises, suddenly withdraws from social gatherings, displays depression

Demonstrates a sudden change in attire

Behavior becomes erratic, severe mood swings

Suddenly has material possessions given to them by a "friend"

Hides emails, text messages, or other online posts

Extreme change in online behavior – suddenly online all the time or suddenly not interested in being online


E:  Engage your kids in a conversation about trafficking.  Targets start as young at 12 years old.

N:  Notify and advocate for change.  Notify your elected officials and ask what they are doing to improve awareness, catching cybertraffickers, and convicting them.

D:  Don't fuel the criminal economy.  Where possible, research and choose free trade or slave-free certified products.


1.Contact local law enforcement

2.If you are unsure and want to talk through the situation first, you can start with the National 24/7 Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.

3.If you want to report an incident, you can do so at the National Center's CyberTipline at 1-800-the-lost or online at

4.The FBI Human Trafficking Hotline is open 24 hours:  866.252.6850.


There are several websites that provide helpful information about Human trafficking.  We have highlighted a few of them below:


Global Awareness, Outreach, and Victim Services:  Polaris Project at

Check Your Chain Store's Policies and write them letters about Human Trafficking at

Information on Global and U.S. Issues:

North Carolina Focus:

NC Stop Human Trafficking:

Triad Ladder of Hope:

Government Sites:

U.S. Department of Justice Web site:

U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Presidential Proclamation:


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 04, 2010

Presidential Proclamation - National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month



The United States was founded on the principle that all people are born with an unalienable right to freedom -- an ideal that has driven the engine of American progress throughout our history. As a Nation, we have known moments of great darkness and greater light; and dim years of chattel slavery illuminated and brought to an end by President Lincoln's actions and a painful Civil War. Yet even today, the darkness and inhumanity of enslavement exists. Millions of people worldwide are held in compelled service, as well as thousands within the United States. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we acknowledge that forms of slavery still exist in the modern era, and we recommit ourselves to stopping the human traffickers who ply this horrific trade.

As we continue our fight to deliver on the promise of freedom, we commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863, and the 13th Amendment, which was sent to the States for ratification on February 1, 1865. Throughout the month of January, we highlight the many fronts in the ongoing battle for civil rights -- including the efforts of our Federal agencies; State, local, and tribal law enforcement partners; international partners; nonprofit social service providers; private industry and nongovernmental organizations around the world who are working to end human trafficking.

The victims of modern slavery have many faces. They are men and women, adults and children. Yet, all are denied basic human dignity and freedom. Victims can be abused in their own countries, or find themselves far from home and vulnerable. Whether they are trapped in forced sexual or labor exploitation, human trafficking victims cannot walk away, but are held in service through force, threats, and fear. All too often suffering from horrible physical and sexual abuse, it is hard for them to imagine that there might be a place of refuge.

We must join together as a Nation and global community to provide that safe haven by protecting victims and prosecuting traffickers. With improved victim identification, medical and social services, training for first responders, and increased public awareness, the men, women, and children who have suffered this scourge can overcome the bonds of modern slavery, receive protection and justice, and successfully reclaim their rightful independence.

Fighting modern slavery and human trafficking is a shared responsibility. This month, I urge all Americans to educate themselves about all forms of modern slavery and the signs and consequences of human trafficking. Together, we can and must end this most serious, ongoing criminal civil rights violation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon the people of the United States to recognize the vital role we can play in ending modern slavery, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.