SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – This week the Human Trafficking Institute rolled out its nationwide numbers for federal convictions in 2020.
According to the institute, there are an estimated 24.9 million victims of human trafficking around the world. Often times, it’s a crime that happens in plain sight, but one that many people may not recognize as clearly as others.
In new data released this week, South Carolina reported two new criminal cases of human trafficking filed in federal courts in 2020, as compared to zero in 2019. It’s a small increase but the institution said it was noteworthy.
“For the last eight or so years we have seen, sort of, a steady incline in cases and enforcement in the federal system in South Carolina,” said Lindsey Roberson, Director of Legal Engagement at the Human Trafficking Institute.
The numbers are solely focusing on federal convictions, not including data regarding prosecutions on the state level.
According to the 2020 federal human trafficking report, there are seven new human trafficking defendants, resulting in a total of 16 people listed as active defendants across the state. 15 of those defendants are charged with sex trafficking and one with forced labor.
“This year we noted in our report there were many more sex trafficking prosecutions nationally in this year than there have been forced labor prosecutions in the last 20 years. So, South Carolina is kind of following suit, all of their new cases were sex trafficking cases,” said Roberson.
Zero people were convicted on the federal level in 2020, showing a decline in the annual numbers of both convictions and restitution orders allotted to the victims. But still, the issue of human tracking stands. Men, women, and children of all ages continue to fall victim of the crime.
“That includes victims that are adults and victims who are minors under the age of 18 and that makes a difference regarding what prosecutors have to prove at trail to convict a defendant,” explained Roberson.
The new information is based on the numbers recorded a year prior. The 2021 data is still being analyzed.
There is something that everyone can do to be more aware of human trafficking. Learn the signs of exploitation and contact your local law enforcement if you think you have seen something.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Someone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Call: 1-888-373-7888
- Text: 233733 (text “HELP” or “INFO”)
- Website: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/
South Carolina resources: