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CoastLine: Bringing Human Trafficking Out of the Shadows

This broadcast of CoastLine originally aired on March 4, 2015. 

This January, a jury convicted a Wilmington man of two counts of transporting young women across state lines with the intent to force them into prostitution.  

Last September, a different Wilmington man was sentenced to more than eleven years behind bars for the sex trafficking of minors.  Two men were arrested last August for kidnapping underage girls and forcing them to work. 

Human trafficking is alive and well in southeastern North Carolina.  

But it’s a difficult crime to prosecute because so many victims remain in the shadows.  And it’s the victims – often young women – who have historically faced prosecution.  But the tide is turning – thanks in part to the passage in 2013 of the Safe Harbor Act for Victims of Sex Trafficking.    Former State Senator Thom Goolsby was a Primary Sponsor of that bill.

On this edition of CoastLine, we explore why southeastern North Carolina has become a favorite spot for traffickers and how law enforcement is shifting its approach to the problem.  We also learn why this is not just an issue for people brought here from other countries, but why Americans – particularly children, are vulnerable.

In-studio guests:

Detective Will Campbell, New Hanover County Sheriff's Office

Jessica Green, Supervisor, Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons and member of the Cape Fear Human Trafficking Rapid Response Team 

Listen to Segment 1 here.
Listen to Segment 2 here.
Listen to Segment 3 here.

From The U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

What are some indicators that suggest the possibility of human trafficking? 

  •     Individuals who have no contact with friends or family and no access to identification documents, bank accounts, or cash;
  •     Workplaces where psychological manipulation and control are used;
  •     Homes or apartments with inhumane living conditions;
  •     People whose communications and movements are always monitored or who have moved or rotated through multiple locations in a short amount of time;
  •     Places where locks and fences are positioned to confine occupants; and
  •     Workers who have excessively long and unusual hours, are unpaid or paid very little, are unable take breaks or days off and have unusual work restrictions, and/or have unexplained work injuries or signs of untreated illness or disease.

What are signs that your child might be at risk online?

  • Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night
  • You find pornography on your child’s computer
  • Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know
  • Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
  • Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
  • Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.


Rape Crisis Center website: http://www.supportrcc.org/

Rape Crisis Center New Hanover:     910-392-7460
Rape Crisis Center Brunswick:          910-754-7949

Report suspected human trafficking activity to law enforcement (available 24/7, in over 300 languages and dialects at):

  • Call 1-866-347-2423 (toll free)
  • Call 1-802-872-6199 (non toll free international)
  • Report online at www.ice.gov/tips

Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-3737-888 to get help or connect with a service provider in your area. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization.
Further resources (click on the links to go to the organizations' websites):

Domestic Violence Shelter  (910) 343-0703

A Safe Place  855-723-7529 ext 3

Good Shepherd Center  (910) 763-4424

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.