'This will help them identify a victim in distress': Cumberland County holds training workshop to combat human trafficking

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Human trafficking is around us even if you don't notice it; experts believe you've likely walked past a human trafficking victim and didn't even know it.

Rada Taylor works as a social worker for a North Carolina school district, she recently discovered human trafficking is closer to home than she expected.

"The parents were involved in human trafficking," said Taylor. "I called and talked with the uncles of where the children are now."

Simon Temple with AME Zion church hosted a human trafficking training for a diverse professional group Friday. County leaders shared harrowing accounts of local women trapped in the throes of trafficking.

Officials said they are also seeing a spike in cases involving transgender victims and heroin users.

RELATED: 2 transgender women killed in separate shootings at Charlotte hotels, police say
EMBED More News Videos

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is on the alert after two transgender women were found shot to death in hotels on different occasions in less than two weeks.

"The red flags of a person being trafficked is the loss of control. They aren't the person in control of their cellphone, I.D. or money. The trafficker likes to manipulate its victim. Typically, they keep the victims close so they can monitor what they're saying and who they are talking to," said Lindsey Lang the Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney.

While Cumberland County prosecutes most cases statewide, officials say it's because they're paying closer attention. They even launched the first human trafficking court two years ago.

"Our success stories are seven graduates that have established safe housing. We've been able to relocate. They are employed and earning money lawfully in a healthy manner. We have individuals who have gone on to obtain their degrees, reunite with their families. They are doing very well, "said Cumberland County Chief District Court judge Toni King.

Most victims are underserved women and children. Officials hope to empower and equip participants to identify the signs of human trafficking through training.

"If I can help educate the staff, they'll know what to look for," said Taylor.
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.