SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Two women are facing charges in a labor trafficking case involving four children.
Elvira Lopez Aguilar appeared in court on Thursday for a bond hearing in Dorchester County. She is one of the suspects in the case led by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division who is accused of forcing her four children, ages 11-16, to work against their will.
“These children were threatened with force or the use of force,” said Megan Raymer with the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
According to SLED Agent Logan Fey, the kids worked late into the night cleaning at the Citadel Mall Stadium 16.
“The children would work anywhere from eight to 10 at night. Sometimes as late as two to four o’clock in the morning,” Fey said during the hearing.
Fey said SLED was made aware of the case when the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office became involved with the children at their schools. He explained they showed obvious signs of neglect and abuse.
Raymer, who also spoke during the hearing, said Lopez Aguilar abandoned her children and left them to live in deplorable conditions.
The other suspect in this case, Marisol Hernandez Perianez, is facing a slew of labor trafficking charges. She is the owner of Marisol’s Cleaning Services LLC, the business the four minors were allegedly working for.
Her lawyer claimed she did not know about the abuse.
“This labor trafficking case really shows two things, that labor trafficking is happening in our area. The need for resources regarding it is a huge need,” said Brooke Burris.
Buriss is the Co-Chair of the Tri-County Human Trafficking Task Force. She and other members of the group sat in on the hearing. Their mission is to prevent cases like this from happening.
“I think it just showcases the need for resources for migrant victims in our community, the need for awareness,” said Julia Poppell who is on the task force.
Lopez Aguilar’s bond was set at $300,000 and Hernandez Perianez’s was set at $40,000. Both women will appear in court on June 19.
The kids are being cared for by the South Carolina Department of Social Services.