“….this isn’t the first incident of its kind in Pitt County, but it is rare that a victim cooperates. She calls human trafficking “a hidden crime.”
A woman brought to Greenville under false pretenses and forced to commit sex acts was rescued from a brothel Friday, and her captor was arrested.
Pitt County Sheriff’s Office Det. Shane Guthrie said he initiated an investigation into activities occurring at a single-wide trailer at 5770 U.S. 264 East in August, based on tips from the public. The victim, an illegal immigrant in her 40s, was brought to Greenville approximately one week ago after being promised a cleaning job at a party in Durham, said Human Trafficking Task Force coordinator Melissia Larson. Once she arrived at the residence, she was told she could not leave. She had no money or vehicle, Larson said, and likely did not know where she was.
An alleged ringleader in a regional human trafficking operation was taken into custody at the scene. Oscar Salinas-Rodriguez, 37, is charged with sexual servitude of an adult victim and remains at the Pitt County Detention Center under a $100,000 secured bond. He is an illegal immigrant.
Also arrested were Kenia Susana Valdez-Gomez, 46, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jose Machado Castro, 20, of Wilson. Both are legal residents and charged with soliciting for prostitution and confined to the jail under a $5,000 secured bond.
Gomez is accused of being a willing sex worker, Larson said.
Salinas-Rodriguez is charged with sexual servitude of an adult victim and remains in jail under a $100,000 secured bond.
The victim was forced to commit multiple sex acts and paid by her captor in domino tiles, which would have been exchanged for food and other needs, Larson said.
Guthrie said the woman was not physically harmed, and case workers with The Salvation Army are assisting her emotional recovery. She was reunited with her family that same night, Larson said.
Larson said the victim was “very cooperative” and seemed willing to testify against Rodriguez.
“We need her,” she said. “We need to put him where he belongs.”
Larson said this isn’t the first incident of its kind in Pitt County, but it is rare that a victim cooperates. She calls human trafficking “a hidden crime.”
“It’s very difficult to know how much of this is actually going on,” she said.
The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, along with nonprofit Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now, head the regional effort to stop human trafficking through a U.S. Department of Justice grant received in 2009.
The estimated $9.5-billion-a-year industry is one that exploits people, mostly women and children, forcing them into prostitution or slave labor. The task force attempts, in part, to teach the public how to recognize human trafficking.
Guthrie said the public should contact law enforcement if they notice frequent traffic at a residence and if the visitors are predominately male. Visits generally last longer than those common to drug operations.
He said the clients at this Pitt County brothel were primarily Hispanic males who come to the area for agricultural work and seek out sex services while living here.
Deputies say this prostitution operation is part of a larger criminal organization. Guthrie said he hopes there are more arrests to come.
Source: The Daily Reflector