GRAHAM, N.C. (WFMY) – A human trafficking ring was busted in Alamance County on Monday after several agencies combined to find seven potential victims and arrest six people.
The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, the Office of the Alamance County District Attorney, Burlington Police, Graham Police, Haw River Police, the N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, N.C. State Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security all conducted “Operation Moonlight” on Monday.
Moonlight was a covert investigative and outreach operation focusing on human trafficking. Most of the investigation centered on prostitution, some of which was suspected of being forced.
“Human trafficking is not only a criminal offense but is a crime against humanity,” Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said. “The collaborative efforts of both law enforcement officials and support services made this operation a success.”
A release from the Sheriff’s Office only said the operation was done at “a controlled location in Alamance County.”
“At this time, we’re not gonna be able to go into details about how we did this or even where. We had a controlled location here in the county that we utilize, where all this took place. We had 30 people involved in this,” said Randy Jones, public information officer for Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.
No charges of soliciting for prostitution were initially made. All victims were offered support services by Alamance for Freedom.
Jones said, “We’ve seen a lot of people being victimized by this, and it needs to be addressed in a stronger sense.”
In terms of arrests and charges, Jones said the Sheriff’s Office focus “was to try and get some relief for these people. We think they’re as much a victim as they are a suspect, probably more so.”
“I think people need to realize that and that’s what we’re looking at with human trafficking and why we’re working with human trafficking trying to dig into it,” Jones added.
As a rural area, Jones said, Alamance County is an appealing location for traffickers, similar to gang-related cases the Sheriff’s Office has dealt with, because the issue receives less attention and there are fewer resources to address them.