New judicial branch podcast highlights human trafficking concerns in North Carolina

All Things Judicial is a bi-monthly podcast presented by the North Carolina Judicial Branch. Image courtesy of the Administrative Office of the Courts

The North Carolina Judicial Branch unveiled a new bi-monthly podcast today entitled All Things Judicial. In the first episode, members of the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission raised awareness about the state of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined by state law as forcing or defrauding minors and adults into labor or commercial sexual activities. North Carolina consistently ranks among the top 10 states with the most calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. In 2019, a total of 266 human trafficking cases were reported to the hotline from North Carolina, according to the state Department of Administration.

Deana Joy, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Carolina is a member of the team working with child survivors of trafficking. Joy said children are often lured into human trafficking by close trusted contacts, including family members, friends and partners.

“It’s children that we know about well. It’s our children. It’s the children that were born here. It’s children that are citizens of the United States,” Joy said. Human traffickers often target vulnerable children, including those who are homeless, in foster care, in poverty, and/or challenged with social and identity issues, she said.

In January, a federal jury convicted a nail salon owner in Davidson of forced labor, according to a DOJ press release. The owner, Thuy Tien Luong, coerced a nail technician to work and abused her. Luong pulled her hair, stabbed her and poured acetone on her head, according to the DOJ release. ICE investigator Ronnie Martinez was quoted saying “Traffickers treat human beings as commodities, and this case is no exception.”

Special Deputy Attorney General Jasmine McGhee, another member of the commission, noted that human trafficking is often intertwined with other criminal activities and drug use. She encouraged law enforcement officers to be considerate and understand the full picture of human trafficking cases.

Visit the Department of Administration’s website for more information on how to spot signs of human trafficking. You can call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733 to report a trafficking case to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby said in the trailer to the All Things Judicial podcast that the series will touch on other issues, including civics education and modernization of courts. Listeners can find all episodes of the podcast on the judicial branch’s website or on other podcast platforms.

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