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Trafficking

Human trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery where traffickers use fraud, force, coercion or deception to control another for the purpose of commercial sex acts of labor against their will. (Source: WECT) Human trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery where traffickers use fraud, force, coercion or deception to control another for the purpose of commercial sex acts of labor against their will. (Source: WECT)

Human trafficking is defined as a modern-day form of slavery where traffickers use fraud, force, coercion or deception to control another for the purpose of commercial sex acts of labor against their will.

Sex trafficking is right in front of you on the internet, in some escort agencies, fake "massage" businesses, strip clubs and street prostitution.

"You look at all the highways and byways, 85, 95, 40, and we see tons of drug trafficking going up and down these corridors," said attorney Lindsey Roberson, a former assistant district attorney in New Hanover County. "Now, following the trafficking of drugs we’re seeing the trafficking of people that are going place to place to meet the demand."

So what is the difference between a pimp and a trafficker?

In criminal cases of pimping it only has to be proved that someone is profiting from the prostitution, according to Roberson. In cases of trafficking an adult, it has to be proved that coercion or deception is involved in the commercial transaction.

Taylor had been prostituting independently on Backpage, but got caught and spent some time in jail. Upon her release, without money or shelter, she agreed to work for a man who promised to make finding clients (and money) easier.

She didn't know that when he came to pick her up, they would be leaving town. She also didn't expect to get assaulted by him their first day "working" together.

"He was like, 'You’re going to give me all your money and this is how it's gonna go,' and that’s how it went," Taylor explained.

So why didn't she just leave?

 "I didn’t go anywhere because every time I left he would find me," Taylor said. "He knew where my mom lived. I knew how he treated me and I didn’t want anything to happen to my family."

Taylor traveled up and down the east coast with her trafficker. Each time they stopped, she was immediately sent to work.

"You wake up and you post," she said. "You need to make the room money so we’re not taking it out of the money the day before. If you don’t want your ass beat you better have the money to pay for the room so he didn’t have to take it out of his pocket."

If Taylor's phone wasn't ringing from her Backpage ad, he would drop her off on the street to walk for clients.

In the six months Taylor was with him, she estimates having sex with over 1,000 different men. She was never allowed to keep any of the money.

"It’s free money. Why is the guy going to let the girl go away when they are easy to control?" she asked hypothetically. "He would beat my ass. I had a black eye for a month. I would wear sunglasses doing a call."

Taylor was moved into "middle management" with her trafficker, a common phenomenon with pimps where girls are ranked based on their seniority. In this role she was expected to recruit new girls while also taking calls.

"You're lying to her to make him happy," Taylor said. "I couldn’t let myself care about what was happening to her, because I was worried about what was happening to me."

The women usually refer to their pimp as "Daddy." It was Taylor's job to find other women and brag about how great life was with her "Daddy." The promise of money and drugs are the selling points, even though the girls would never see either once, under his rule.

"If we got a girl in Florida we would immediately leave Florida and go hours away," Taylor explained. "There was no one for her to call, she had no money, nothing."

"You take someone out of their environment and you can control them a lot better by removing them from what’s familiar," said Detective Evan Luther with New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Ads on escorting websites like Backpage that read "One Night Only" and "New to Town" can be a sign of a girl who is being trafficked to different areas.

"If you’re in one place your phone will stop ringing eventually," Taylor said. "When you go to a new place the guys are tired of seeing the same old girl there, so when you pop up you’re a new person, everybody is going to want to come see you."

With the help of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office and A Safe Place, Taylor escaped her trafficker.

Today she is looking for long-term rehab and a stable place to live away from the motels.

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