Human trafficking is one of the most pressing issues in the state of North Carolina (NC). NC ranks in the top 10 for human trafficking in the nation – a position it has held for the past several years . Since 2007 there has been a total of 1,560 cases and 5,060 reported victims of human trafficking in NC . According to a report by the NC Human Trafficking Commission in 2019, there was a total of 713 charges of human trafficking and other offenses documented ; of these cases, the majority involved sex trafficking, women, adults and foreign nationals . What constitutes human trafficking? The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 defines human trafficking as:
1. “Sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or,
2. The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery” (22 U.S.C. § 7102(9)) .
However, the NC Department of Administration explains that “a victim does not have to be physically transported from one location to another for it to be considered human trafficking. It can be tricky to determine when an exploitative situation moves from something like a violation of labor rights to the crime of human trafficking” . To help navigate gray areas, NC looks to the Human Trafficking Commission (NC HTC) and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for guidance.
The NC HTC is the legislatively mandated leader of anti-human trafficking efforts in NC and is run by the NC Judicial Branch as established by the NC General Assembly in Senate Bill 683, An Act to Create Safe Harbor for Victims of Human Trafficking and for Prostituted Minors, that was ratified in 2013 . In 2019, the NC General Assembly passed House Bill 198 that implemented the recommendations of the HTC to help equip “law enforcement to combat human trafficking more aggressively and [to] [remove] obstacles to recovery for survivors” . As for state agencies, the NC General Assembly officially assigned the SBI jurisdiction over human trafficking cases starting in 2017 and created the Human Trafficking Unit in 2018 .
CCJR is working with advocates across the state to combine efforts to learn about ways to combat human trafficking and to educate the public on what human trafficking looks like, what to do as a witness, how to keep yourself safe and legislative opportunities to further anti-trafficking efforts. Our Executive Director, Tarrah Callahan, currently serves on the NC Human Trafficking Legislative Recommendations Committee and works diligently to help advise the Human Trafficking Commission on these efforts.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911. If you would like to report information about a trafficking situation, contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- Call 1-888-373-7888 or Text 233733
- Click here to chat online with a Hotline representative