MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW)- South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill making sure those who are convicted of trafficking minors spend more time behind bars. Representative Russel Fry of Surfside Beach wrote the bill, which makes sentencing run consecutively so if someone is convicted of trafficking minors they’ll serve 30 years in jail as opposed to having it run concurrently for 15 years.
“People aren’t trafficking as much in drugs anymore they are in people, and this is South Carolina’s response to that,” said Rep. Fry.
Right now, there are 2 pending human trafficking cases in Horry County.
Of the cases that closed last year in South Carolina state court nearly half involved minors.
The rape crisis center says the target age for sex trafficking is 12 to 14 years old.
“That emotional manipulation is what really holds people to it and the ages of 12 to 14 are easily manipulated so that’s what we’re seeing,” said Ashely Hoshihara Cruz.
According to a study done by Carnegie Mellon University, the problem will spike during Memorial Day weekend.
“The super bowl used to be the single most sporting even that had the most sex trafficking, but Myrtle Beach bike week has far surpassed that. How many kids sneak out during these events trying to get down to the boulevard to see the bikes and hang out and party they’re easy targets. It’s something that can happen,” said Hoshihara Cruz.
The rape crisis center says most of the time if victims are trafficked as a teen they don’t come to them until they’re much older, which is something lawmakers are working to change.
“It also helps set up a centralized system of service providers who work with the human trafficking task force so we can get these children into needed services to rehabilitate their lives,” said Rep. Fry.
The bill goes into effect as soon as it gets the governor’s signature.
If you know or see someone you think could be a victim of human trafficking call the police and rape crisis center.