Law enforcement steps up efforts to end human trafficking in the Piedmont

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- From Burlington to Greensboro, we’re seeing arrests for human trafficking and sex enslavement. Serious charges for crimes law enforcement say could happen hundreds of times a day.

It’s not unique to one city or even one region, but across the Piedmont, law enforcement is making an effort to stop human trafficking.

“Human trafficking in my opinion, is one of the top three worst crimes that’s being committed in the Piedmont area,” Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said.

The sheriff has been making efforts to crack down on human trafficking.

“We have set up sting operations for prostitution and a lot of the people come out of Greensboro and High Point, here, I’m talking about the traffic victims or the prostitutes,” he said.

That kind of movement is common and it adds to the challenge for law enforcement to make these cases.

“Most human trafficking cases take a lot of manpower, and time, undercover work. It’s not something that’s just going to jump right out at you,” Greensboro Police Detective Caroline Holliday said.

Detective Holliday says officers are trying to catch someone for a crime that has probably happened over and over again.

“If you have a gun you can only sell it one time, drugs you can only sell once, but a girl you can sell one hundred times a night,” she said.

She says a big focus now is on bringing forward felony charges for pimps instead of going after misdemeanor prostitution charges for people who are likely victims.

“At the end of the day, these long women, they are someone’s daughter, they are someone’s mother, they are someone’s sister,” she said.

Another area law enforcement says needs more efforts on, is the people hiring the victims.

“I have asked our legislatures and our congressmen to make it a felony for me to solicit prostitution. We need to send a message that we are not going to tolerate this in our county, in our state, or our country,” Sheriff Johnson said.

Law enforcement says another challenge in busting these human trafficking cases is getting the victims to trust them, and to testify. That’s why they are trying to get more resources for the victims of the crimes and push more education.