JACKSONVILLE (WNCT) — Onslow County is ranked 11th in the nation for human trafficking. After the collaborative efforts from state and local law enforcement, one more criminal is behind bars.
Human trafficking is also known as modern-day slavery. The Department of Homeland Security describes human trafficking as the “use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor”.
“It affects our entire community. Everything from the military base to the people who are native,” Col. Chris Thomas with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
This type of labor is often linked to prostitution coerced by drugs. Jesse Marks of Onslow County was just sentenced for this crime. Officials say he used controlled substances to gain control over his victims.
“Jesse and others like him used fear, they used threats, they used drugs to coerce these women,” said Acting U.S. Attorney General for ENC District Norman Acker.
The local organization True Justice International said that with Marks’ arrest, they can bring closure to his victims.
”I can tell you that all the girls that I’ve talked to since he was sentenced, that this is like a closure for them,” said Executive Director of True Justice International Traci Klein.
His arrest was made by the collaborative efforts of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Police Department and NCIS. The group True Justice International also helped aid local law enforcement in this effort.
“This was everybody working together for the good of the community,” said Acker.
Traci Klein from True Justice International said that human trafficking numbers are grossly underreported. Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said that if you or someone you know is being victimized, tell the sheriff’s office. The national human trafficking hotline is also 888-373-7888.
“If we don’t know, we cannot help you. So, we encourage the people that are being victimized to please let us know so that we can help you,” said Miller.