CHARLOTTE, N.C. ICE reports 2.14.2019 – Representatives from a variety of federal and state law enforcement agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations hit the streets of Charlotte early Thursday morning to target potential human traffickers and aid victims in the hours leading up to NBA All-Star 2019.“Criminals often capitalize on large, special events to conduct illicit activity, including the trafficking of human beings,” said John Eisert, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Charlotte. “HSI conducts victim-centered trafficking investigations where the rescue and stabilization of victims is just as important as the prosecution of traffickers.”

As part of Thursday’s operation, law enforcement teams engaged with more than 20 potential human trafficking victims and gathered intelligence on potential traffickers. Five victims agreed to provide details on their situations to law enforcement, and several victims were paired with victim service representatives who can assist the victims with rebuilding their lives through access to housing, medical care, legal assistance, transportation and more. None of the victims were charged with a crime. One male, who was not identified as a victim, was arrested on state charges of felony promotion of prosecution.

Participating investigative agencies included: HSI, the FBI, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, A21 and My Save Haven provided victim services. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department assisted with planning and coordination.

“The fact that today is Valentine’s Day, a day where most of the country is celebrating love, is not lost on us. This morning, we showed victims that their lives matter, and there is hope moving forward,” said Eisert. “The information we gathered will help our team of investigators continue to uncover, dismantle and disrupt human trafficking.”

Recognizing human trafficking indicators is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. HSI encourage the public to report suspected human trafficking to its tip line by calling 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by submitting a tip online at ICE.gov/tips. The tip line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.