COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with a law enforcement operation targeting crimes related to human trafficking and prostitution, according to the State Task Force on trafficking in human beings.
Two of these individuals, Ronald Ford and Oliver Paiz-Arias, were arrested by the Summerville Police Department on April 20. Both were charged with prostitution.
The multi-day sting operation targeted the solicitation of commercial sex services in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee areas of the state. Specifically, the operation was conducted around hotels and motels in Summerville, Hardeeville and Florence.
“As chair of the state’s task force on human trafficking, I can’t stress enough the importance of partnering with law enforcement to address the complexities of this crime,” the official said. Attorney General Alan Wilson. “By stopping the demand for commercial sex, we want to discourage traffickers who hope to profit by supplying victims.”
Additional charges against the suspects included unlawful carrying of a handgun, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II narcotic, distribution of cocaine and the distribution of marijuana. Three firearms were also seized by officers during the arrests.
“I want to talk to the victims now,” Summerville Police Chief Doug Wright said at a news conference. “You can get away with it, you’re being manipulated.”
The Summerville Police Department, Charleston Police Department, and Charleston County Sheriff’s Office were among ten law enforcement agencies involved in the operation.
“SLED and our law enforcement partners continue to take a proactive approach to workplace crimes related to human trafficking,” said Lt. Jade Roy of the Human Trafficking Unit. human beings from SLED. “We are committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to fully investigate these crimes.”
To report human trafficking or request support services, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.