State Attorney Alan Wilson announced Tuesday the launch of a new regional human trafficking task force that will encompass Lexington, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties.
The task force joins eight others like it across South Carolina which serve to coordinate anti-human trafficking efforts within their jurisdictions while collaborating with the State Task Force to promote information sharing and cooperation with statewide initiatives.
The new task force launched on Tuesday morning will be chaired by the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and the Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center.
“It is critical that we continue to strengthen anti-trafficking networks across the state to increase our ability to effectively identify victims and respond accordingly,” Wilson said. “I applaud the efforts of Solicitor Hubbard and the Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center for recognizing the need to coordinate regional efforts to better position those investigating and prosecuting these cases.”
The threat of human trafficking continues to increase in the Palmetto state, officials report.
The South Carolina Human Trafficking Task Force reported a 360% increase in the total number of trafficking victims recorded in South Carolina last year, 678 victims, as well as an increase in the number of human trafficking cases reported in the state.
According to the State Human Task Force 2019 annual report, sex trafficking led in the type of human trafficking cases reported, followed by labor trafficking.
Of the 678 victims recorded within the state last year, at least 220 were female and at least 67 were men while 391 victims’ gender remains unknown, according to data from the State Human Task Force 2019 annual report.
Escort services leads the top five sex trafficking venues in the state followed by illicit massage health and beauty, residence-based commercial sex, outdoor solicitation and pornography.
“Human trafficking is a complex issue impacting so many vulnerable children and youth,” Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center Executive Director Carol Yarborough said. “We are proud to be joining efforts with Solicitor Hubbard’s office, local law enforcement and the State Task Force to aid in a multidisciplinary response.”