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Raeford is a city of just under 4,750 residents in Hoke County, North Carolina. The city serves as the government seat of Hoke County. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city. For example, in February 2018, a Hoke County Sheriff’s Office investigation found that a Raeford business advertising itself as a spa was actually a prostitution operation. Three people were arrested when deputies executed a search warrant at the spa on Fayetteville Road, across from a pediatrician’s office. Complaints from residents about men constantly frequenting the business sparked the investigation. Deputies conducted surveillance and learned that the business was an unlicensed massage parlor in what looked like a brick residential residence. The three who were arrested were charged with misdemeanors. Two were female foreign nationals. A man was arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution. In another case later that year, a 73-year-old woman from Raeford was accused of making money from a business that was billed as a massage parlor, but was being used for prostitution, according to an arrest warrant in the Cumberland County Magistrate’s Office. The woman was charged with promoting prostitution for profit and misdemeanor keeping a place for prostitution.
In September 2020, a Hoke County man was arrested in Mississippi and extradited back to Raeford on more than 300 child sex crime charges with at least 133 victims, all of whom were minors. He was apprehended by the FBI after the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office had obtained 156 warrants and opened an investigation. The man was charged with 12 counts of statutory sexual offense with a child by an adult, 12 counts of taking indecent liberties with children, 12 counts of crimes against nature, 12 counts of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, 144 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and 144 counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Sex buyers have also been arrested in Raeford, and their identities publicly disclosed. For example, in July 2021, Homeland Security investigators and the SBI helped arrested a 55-year-old Raeford man on charges related to child prostitution and child sex crimes. A joint operation involving federal and local law enforcement executed a search warrant at a home in the 100 block of Hampton Drive in Raeford. Officers seized multiple cell phones, laptops, and electronic devices from the home. The resident was arrested during the operation and was charged with one count of patronizing a minor prostitute and two counts of first-degree exploitation of a child. He was then held in the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $150,000 secure bond. The joint operation consisted of members from Homeland Security Investigations, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office, and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
In another example of sexual exploitation of children in Raeford, in May 2015, two male Raeford teens were charged with multiple counts of rape and kidnapping after a monthlong investigation by the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office. According to local news, a female student at Hoke County High School had filed a sexual assault report with a school resource officer earlier that spring. The girl said one of the teens threatened to post sexually explicit material of her to social media if she did not perform sexual acts on him and several other males. He would text her and tell her to leave class and head to a special location on Hoke High’s campus. A car would be would be there to pick her up, and she would be forced into the car against her will. The Sheriff’s Office determined there were six locations where she was forced to be with different people to perform acts of paid sexual abuse.
- Hoke County Sheriff’s Office
- Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office
- Homeland Security Investigations
- North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.cbs17.com/homeland-security-helps-arrest-raeford-man-on-child-prostitution-sex-crime-charges/ (2021)
- https://www.wral.com/raeford-man-arrested-after-authorities-say-he-paid-a-child-prostitute (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://www.wbtv.com/10-arrested-in-nc-undercover-human-trafficking-sting/ (2017)
- https://www.cbs17.com/3-face-prostitution-charges-after-raid-at-hoke-county-spa-deputies-say/ (2018)
- https://www.fayobserver.com/complaints-lead-to-discovery-of-prostitution-operation-in-hoke-county (2018)
- https://www.wwaytv3.com/deputies-3-face-prostitution-charges-after-raid-at-nc-spa/ (2018)
- https://www.fayobserver.com/raeford-woman-accused-promoting-profiting-from-prostitution (2018)
Background on Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area: