ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — The sheriffs of Durham, Orange, Alamance, and Guilford counties have come together to form what they are calling a "Strike Team" to battle crime happening across the county lines.
"What happens in Orange County (doesn't) stay in Orange County, what happens in Alamance County (doesn't) stay in Alamance County, what happens in Durham County (doesn't) stay in Durham County and these people are going from county to county committing crimes," said Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson.
Johnson said the team has been around for several months with the goal of stopping gang shootings, people's homes getting shot, drug dealing, and human trafficking.
"We probably know, I’d say 95 96 percent of the people, that’s actually committing these violent crimes we can target them with these groups and catch them and get them off the street," Johnson said.
All four counties are connected by the I-40/I-85 corridor which Johnson said enables criminals.
"You can hit the interstate to Guilford County to Orange County on into Durham and a lot of your criminal element, especially that’s coming in these violent crimes, travel that interstate and they know no boundaries," Johnson said.
The interstates also enable human trafficking in North Carolina. According to Abolition N.C., North Carolina ranks among the top states in the country for human trafficking.
"Traffickers can move those victims in and out of the state very easily," said Rebecca Setzer, the director of outreach and development for Abolition N.C.
Abolition N.C. is a Greensboro non-profit organization that works with schools in the state to teach them about human trafficking, including how to recognize it and protect themselves.
"Human trafficking is a hidden crime that happens most of the time in plain sight," Setzer said. "Victims don’t often recognize it, (the) community doesn't recognize it, the buyers don't even recognize it. Most of the victims are being trafficked by someone that they have a relationship with and they don’t often identify that person as a trafficker."
Johnson said he considers the Strike Team a success so far with 62 arrests, 19 firearms seizures, and thousands of drugs taken since last April in Alamance County alone. He hopes the collaboration can help stop violent criminals before they commit another crime and hurt more people.