Prostitution is part of bigger human trafficking problem in the Upstate, group says

Undercover deputies make 45 arrests in a prostitution sting.  More than 50 people were arrested in a recent sting in Simpsonville. Most of them face prostitution charges.

One organization says this kind of operation is a sign of a bigger problem in the Upstate.

28 people are facing charges for prostitution another 26 were arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

Police tell us they used undercover officers on social media advertising sex for money to make the arrests. They say it is the biggest operation of its kind in the city.

Switch is a non-profit that helps victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

“It is a very severe issue, especially now that most of the issue of prostitution is not just on our streets but there is this huge world online where sexual services are being served in our community,” Zaina Greene, Switch Community Engagement Director said.

They say in a lot of cases they see, prostitutes have been a victim to human trafficking at some point. While they don’t know about the people involved in the Simpsonville case, they say that could likely be the case for some of the suspects charged.

“The statistic is that 7 out of 9 women or men that are in prostitution just in Greenville County have either currently been trafficked or have been trafficked in the past,” Greene added.  “So a lot of times we are dealing with victims that maybe have been through things that have caused them to be in this situation.”

They say often times men and women in prostitution are forced into the crimes and stay out of fear. Some, they say, grow up in the industry and don’t know any other way to live.

“It is really a choice when you are actually trafficking yourself because you need to do it for survival purposes,” Greene said.

Switch is glad this time to see Simpsonville Police holding the alleged buyers accountable. The non-profit organization has been trying to get state leaders to change minimum penalties for men and women who solicit prostitution.

“It is a supply in demand industry. Without penalizing the buyers it is just going to continue to see the problem,” Greene explained.

Simpsonville police say they hope this sting will deter others from committing the same crimes.

Greenville City Police were also involved in operation good time.

To learn more about Switch and how you can help their effort, click HERE.

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