Hardeeville, SC

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Hardeeville is a city in Jasper and Beaufort counties in South Carolina. It is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city’s population is roughly 9,000 residents. Prostitution and human trafficking have been persistent problems in Hardeeville, and local officials have said contributing factors include an interstate highway that cuts through the city and a number of motels serving tourists between Savannah and Charleston. For example, in December 2020 the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office arrested four people in Hardeeville during a raid targeting prostitution in the area. The Sheriff’s Office, along with Hardeeville police, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division, and the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office conducted the prostitution operation. Along with the charges for prostitution, the operation yielded the seizure of six guns and narcotics.

Among the local efforts to combat these problems are the use of tactics targeting consumer-level demand. For example, a prostitution sting in July 2017 led to 10 arrests, according to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office. JCSO conducted the reverse sting operation in the Hardeeville area with help from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and the Hardeeville Police Department. The operation was from 6 p.m. on a Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday. JCSO had received complaints for several months prior to the operation. The sting involved motels off Exit 5 on Interstate 95. The identities of the arrested men were released to news outlets.  A reverse sting in hotels in the Hardeeville area in March 2018 led to the arrest of four people on prostitution charges.

In April 2022, four men and a minor from Beaufort and Jasper counties were charged by Hardeeville police as part of a statewide human trafficking sting. The Hardeeville Police Department charged the Lowcountry residents on counts of soliciting sex in addition to various drug and weapons offenses, according to an S.C. Law Enforcement Division press release. Human trafficking and prostitution are persistent problems in the city of Hardeeville, which is located along I-95 between Savannah and Charleston. Several motels in Hardeeville are often sites of alleged sex trafficking, according to police.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in Hardeeville. In April 2019, law enforcement agents were in the area of Whyte Hardee Boulevard in Hardeeville conducting a human trafficking investigation. After taking several people into custody, agents learned that a Hardeeville police officer had previously solicited one of those individuals “to perform sexual acts for money,” according to an arrest warrant. The man had also allegedly used Snapchat to “to warn Defendants involved in prostitution to avoid said activity due to the presence of law enforcement in the area,” the warrants said. The S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigated the case. The officer had worked at the department for around one year before being fired. The AG’s office said the man also resigned his law enforcement certification, and would be unable to be a police officer in South Carolina without one. After a full investigation into the allegations and discussion with law enforcement, the agreement was made for the man to resign his certification as a law enforcement officer and the state would not move forward with prosecution. The criminal charge against the former officer was dismissed in March 2022.

Key Partners

  • Hardeeville Police Department
  • Jasper County Sheriff’s Office
  • Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office
State South Carolina
Type City
Population 8835
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