A man charged with forcing a 16-year-old Richland County girl into prostitution is being held under a $300,000 bond while police investigate whether he’s involved in more human trafficking.
Daytron Hoefer, 22, was charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and simple possession of marijuana Jan. 6. His arrest was announced Tuesday by deputies during a news conference.
Hoefer met the girl online and lured her into a meeting, after which he held her against her will, forcing her to have sex for money in various motels throughout the county, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. Investigators found a backpage.com listing advertising sex with the victim and set up a sting operation, telling Hoefer they wanted to pay for sex with her.
Hoefer also gave the victim alcohol and marijuana during the period he was keeping her, Lott said. The girl is not back with her parents and is not attending school, but is receiving counseling.
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“When we hear the words ‘human trafficking,’ I think a lot of people have a misconception,” Lott said. “They think of the movie ‘Taken.’ They think about people being smuggled across our borders. Human trafficking is much different. It’s happening all across the United States.”
The maximum sentence for human trafficking is 15 years in prison. The sheriff’s department also charged Hoefer with kidnapping because that charge carries a maximum sentence twice as long, Lott said. Hoefer is being held in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.
This case comes at a time when human trafficking is becoming increasingly high-profile in the state.
Laura Hudson, executive director of the S.C. Crime Victims’ Council, said, “People tend to think of human trafficking as only being a Latino problem or Russian problem – foreigners coming in – and that is a significant part of it. But much of it takes place in our own communities and can involve young women and young boys that you might be living next door to.”
Police investigations of prostitution often uncover victims of trafficking, she said.
The faith community in South Carolina is instrumental to training people to be aware of trafficking, Hudson said.
The state attorney general’s office now has more ability to investigate such matters, because of a 2015 law allowing the State Grand Jury to handle human trafficking cases. That helps deal with traffickers who move across multiple counties, according to Mark Powell, spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Powell added that though much attention on human trafficking focuses on sex, forced labor also is a big problem. “If you’re forced to do physical labor without compensation, that’s human trafficking,” he said.
First S.C. report on human trafficking
The 2015 S.C. Human Trafficking Task Force Annual Report, released Tuesday, gathered numbers of victims who received help from 11 organizations across the state. Altogether, the agencies reported 155 victims last year.