NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Human trafficking isn’t always easy to detect, but a group on the Grand Strand says whether you see it or not, the crime happens in Horry County communities.
Officers with the North Myrtle Beach Police Department say it’s often difficult for investigators to find human trafficking victims because the crime isn’t always reported. Police say the most common victims are J-1 Visa students, the young adults who come to the Grand Strand for summer jobs, because they don’t speak much English and they aren’t familiar with the area.
North Myrtle Beach Code Enforcement Officer Amy Vicks says students can get scammed online before they even make it to the United States. Those students will often be taken to live in the back of retail stores or restaurants in deplorable conditions. Vicks explains a person speaking the student’s native language will meet them at the airport, pretending to be their sponsor.
“So they’ll [students] get interviewed before they get to their actual sponsor can get to them, and then when they intervene, they’re given less than appropriate living conditions,” confirms Vicks.
The con-artist will tell the student that living and working arrangements have been set up for them, and being unfamiliar with Myrtle Beach, the student will be lured into sometimes very dangerous situations.
“They’re used as sex slaves, work slaves, they are worked many many many hours, and their housing conditions are 10 to 12 in a room,” describes Vicks. “It’s just less than appropriate conditions for those that come here.”
The Woman’s Club of North Myrtle Beach is attempting to show the community what it’s like for the young men and women who come to the Grand Strand for work but are forced into human trafficking. The group is showing the movie “Sold” to give people a first-hand look at what it’s like being a human trafficking victim.
“Often, human trafficking is one of those crimes that is faceless and you don’t really see it in the communities,” said Juliet Casper of the North Myrtle Beach Woman’s Club. “This will make you see the vulnerabilities and how children can be particularly targeted and chosen.”
The movie will be shown Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Carmike 12 theater at the Myrtle Beach Mall.