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Berkeley County is a county in South Carolina with a population of approximately 237,000 residents. The government seat is Moncks Corner, SC. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2021, two Berkeley County individuals were arrested on numerous child sex trafficking charges. The investigation was initiated after police received a report from a concerned father stating that his eight-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted. Upon further investigation police discovered that the victim’s mother had been accepting $50 payments from a man in exchange for sexually exploiting her daughter. The mother was charged with trafficking persons under 18 and if found guilty, she faced up to 30 years in prison. The male suspect was charged with trafficking, as well as criminal sexual conduct with a minor, which carries a penalty of at least 25 years behind bars to life if convicted. The identities and images of both offenders were included in reports by local media outlets.
In their efforts to reduce the size and scope of the county’s prostitution market, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has conducted numerous reverse sting operations in the county. For example, in August 2015, eleven male sex buyers were arrested during a prostitution sting in Berkeley County. Two undercover female deputies from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office posed as prostituted women along Red Bank Road in Goose Creek. They were approached by eleven male sex buyers, who were arrested after attempting to solicit sex acts from the undercover officers in exchange for money. All eleven male sex buyers were charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor. The sting was led by the Berkeley County Sheriff Office’s Community Action Team and the Narcotics/Vice Team.
In October 2019, officials with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, as well as members of the Goose Creek Police Department, conducted an investigation in reference to solicitation of prostitution in Goose Creek. “During the investigation, 12 subjects were found to be soliciting prostitutes for an unlawful transaction in exchange for drugs and/or money.” As a result of the investigation, 12 sex buyers were arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution, three of whom were additionally charged with intent to distribute or simple possession of illegal drugs.
Additional efforts to reduce the demand for prostitution in the county, such as public education, have been documented. In 2020, the Berkeley County School District announced is participation in the local and state-wide initiative to raise awareness on sex trafficking, in addition to showing schools and residents what they could do to combat it as well. As a part of the initiative, the BCSD hosted training seminars for students, parents, and staff to help raise awareness and reduce the demand for prostitution in the county. Additionally, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force to reduce the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking in the county.
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.postandcourier.com/archives/men-arrested-in-berkeley-county-prostitution-sting (2015)
- https://www.berkeleyobserver.com/berkeley-county-deputies-arrest-13-men-in-prostitution-sting (2015)
- https://abcnews4.com/news/crime-news/14-arrested-in-berkeley-county-after-prostitution-drug-sting (2015)
- https://www.facebook.com/BerkCoSheriff/posts/berkeley-county-sheriff-office-arrests-14-in-narcotics-and-prostitution-investig (2015)
- https://www.facebook.com/BerkCoSheriff/posts/berkeley-county-sheriffs-office-arrests-12-in-prostitution-sting-members-of-the (2019)
- https://www.live5news.com/berkeley-county-sheriffs-office-receives-training-identify-human-trafficking (2020)
- https://www.bcsdschools.net/site/Default.aspx (2020)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://abcnews4.com/news/local/child-prostitution-case-berkeley-county-man-arrested (2021)
- https://abcnews4.com/news/local/juvenile-victim-of-berkeley-county-sex-trafficking-case-now-with-father (2021)
- https://abcnews4.com/news/local/task-force-works-to-combat-human-trafficking-through-education (2023)