WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- It sounded like news you would hear come out of South Florida or Las Vegas, but the arrests of nearly 30 people in a human trafficking sex ring happened right here in Winston-Salem. The Winston-Salem Police Department, along with local, state and national law enforcement agencies, have been investigating the human trafficking ring since 2009. The ring involved nine brothels in Winston-Salem.
We're talking in neighborhoods you normally consider established like the Robinhood Road area. Folks there said they had no idea. But North Carolina is in the top 15 of states for human trafficking in the United States.
According to the 2013 human trafficking report 70-percent of the cases in North Carolina are sex related, 17-percent are labor related.
How do authorities find out about these cases? Most of the time, the answer is you! Of the 623 calls made to the National Human trafficking hotline from North Carolina, 34-percent come from community members and 17-percent from the victims themselves.
What do victims look like? The state says they could be at construction sites, restaurants, nail salons, hotels, in our neighborhoods. There's no real way to know. But there are signs. Indicators range from the person lives with their employer, to poor living conditions, to inability to speak with someone else alone.
If you think something is wrong near you, or you're a victim of trafficking, the number to National Human Trafficking Resource Center is 1-888-373-7888.