WAKE COUNTY (WTVD) -- North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein released the 2017 numbers for human trafficking cases in the state Thursday at the Salvation Army of Wake County.
Representatives from nonprofits, law enforcement, and government agencies who play a role in combatting human trafficking gathered on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Stein said there were 1,200 victims/survivors and 258 cases of human trafficking in the state in 2017, describing it as a dramatic increase.
But he said that doesn't mean the crime has worsened.
Rather he said it means there are more efforts to stop human trafficking, along with more awareness about the issue.
"I think that's actually a good thing because we know that there are thousands of people who are suffering from this crime here in North Carolina right now," Stein said. "Those people need to know that there are resources there to help so please just reach out to law enforcement, reach out to service providers like the Salvation Army because. There is a way out of what seems like a hopeless situation."
The Salvation Army of Wake County's "Project FIGHT," which stands for Freeing Individuals Gripped by Human Trafficking, is dedicated to fighting human trafficking.
"Project FIGHT" focuses on education/awareness, outreach, case management, and collaboration.
The Governor proclaimed January Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
North Carolina ranks among the top 10 states when it comes to human trafficking cases.
Stein also addressed the alleged human trafficking case in Cumberland County.
"Obviously, it's just charges at this point and the allegations, they sound horrendous," Stein said. "Young people, even pre-teens, being forced to labor 40 hours a week and taken out of school ... It shocks the conscience "
Report: 258 cases of human trafficking in NC in 2017