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Officials: Human trafficking numbers are alarming locally

Authorities say human trafficking in Cumberland County is a growing crisis.
Authorities say human trafficking in Cumberland County is a growing crisis.

According to several reports, North Carolina is ranked in the top ten states in the country for human trafficking.

Tuesday on the plaza in front of the courthouse, law enforcement, court officials, the mayor and county commission chairman all pledged their support to end the problem in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

Last month, police raided a hotel on Skibo Road. They charged three individuals with luring several women from South Carolina to Fayetteville, and then forced them into prostitution.

According to recent numbers, 80 percent of trafficking victims are women, 50 percent of those are under 18.

The police chief and sheriff say there is big money behind human trafficking. Fayetteville and North Carolina are between New York and Miami. Plus, Fayetteville has a young population.

The sheriff says it's a big problem.

"No later than a week ago, I spoke to a young lady out on one of the roads, and I asked her where did she live? She said she did not have a home," said Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler. "It's our responsibility as leaders of this county, to step up. In the sheriff's office, we are very much concerned about human trafficking."

"We are now beginning to recognize the signs and symptoms, more than we have and that's not just in the city, but it's across the state and across the country," said Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock.

Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson and County Commission Chairwoman Dr. Jeannette Council signed proclamations declaring this week as Human Trafficking Awareness week.

City leaders are hoping to get some grants and donations to help fund a program, to rescue trafficking victims.

The mayor had a strong message to the pimps and johns -- you are not welcome here, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

A tipline has been set up for calls about suspected sex trafficking. That number is (515) 999-6780.

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