North Carolina

Human trafficking ‘red flags’ in SC lead to arrest for kidnapping, rape of Raleigh girl

Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office

A police officer in a small town outside Spartanburg, South Carolina, saw “red flags” when he pulled over a car on Interstate 85 last week, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports. Those suspicions led to the arrest of the 22-year-old driver for kidnapping and statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl from Raleigh, North Carolina, in what police characterize as a possible case of human trafficking, according to the newspaper.

Officer R.A. Smith with the Wellford Police Department pulled over 22-year-old Rahim Nader-Fayez Olabi at about lunchtime Dec. 4, according to WSPA. “I just watched his nervous behavior. He was watching what I was doing,” the officer told the station. “I watched him make an improper lane shift and thought I’d just stop and talk to him about it.”

There was a 13-year-old girl in the passenger seat, according to Herald-Journal.

Olabi, from Charlotte, told the officer they were driving from Raleigh to Texas and that he had permission to bring the girl, Fox Carolina reports.

“Certainly her age was cause for concern,” Smith told WSPA. “There’s no logical reason that somebody with no relation should be traveling cross country with somebody with such a vast age difference without obviously a compelling story and this just wasn’t there.”

Then there was a matter of her attire — a spaghetti dress top and shorts on a cold day, according to the Spartanburg newspaper.

“She was not dressed appropriately for the weather,” Smith told WSPA.

Olabi’s story kept changing, Wellford Police Chief David Green told the newspaper. “We determined the girl was a runaway, and her guardian did not know she was missing,” he said, according to the Herald Journal.

The police chief said the girl and Olabi had been talking online for a year before he took her, the newspaper reports.

“After some interviewing, she did break down and say that she was a runaway and that she left her home to travel with this male to Texas but she was unaware of some of the other stops in between,” the police chief told WSPA.

“He did admit that he was coming at first from Charlotte to Atlanta, and then on down to Texas. Being of course, everything we’ve been taught with human trafficking, that is a telltale sign of somebody transporting — especially a young female from different places for the purpose of sexual activity,” Green said, according to the station.

Jail records show Olabi is still being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, driving under suspension and several traffic violations.

“Police say they also obtained warrants for Olabi for kidnapping and statutory rape and additional federal charges are likely to be coming from the Department of Homeland Security,” Fox Carolina reports.

If you notice suspicious activity in your community, call the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Newly designed signs, unveiled on Wednesday March 21, 2018 at a liquor store in Raleigh, encourage readers to report any signs of sex or labor trafficking to a confidential hotline. The hotline can also be used to seek help.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.