COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA/WSAV) – Multiple people have been arrested and charged in a statewide sting targeting commercial sex crimes, according to South Carolina law enforcement and prosecutors.
The multi-day, multi-agency operations were focused on hotels and motels on the I-95 corridor.
Law enforcement involved in the operation included the Hardeeville Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, among others.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said the State Human Trafficking Task Force’s efforts resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals — five from the Lowcountry:
- Kenneth Zentner, 59, of Beaufort, charged with solicitation of prostitution, one handgun seized.
- Christopher Hamilton, 47, of Tillman, charged with solicitation of prostitution, unlawful carry of a pistol, possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon, possession with the intent to distribute a schedule II drug. One handgun seized from suspect upon arrest.
- Jelfriess Sevilla, 38, of Bluffton, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Michael Jamison, 41, of Bluffton, charged with solicitation of prostitution, unlawful carry of a pistol, distribution of cocaine, distribution of marijuana. One handgun seized from subject upon arrest and one shotgun seized from his vehicle subsequent to arrest.
- One 17-year-old male, of Bluffton, charged with solicitation of prostitution
“As the chair of the State Human Trafficking Task Force, I cannot highlight enough the importance of law enforcement partnering to address the complexities of this crime,” S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said Monday. “By stopping the demand for commercial sex, we want to discourage traffickers who hope to profit by supplying victims.”
According to a release, task force operations were a means of addressing the demand for commercial sex in the Lowcountry and Pee Dee regions. Operations will continue across South Carolina.
“SLED (the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) and our law enforcement partners continue to take a proactive approach to work crimes related to human trafficking,” said Lt. Jade Roy of the SLED Human Trafficking Unit. “We are committed to working with our local, state and federal partners to thoroughly investigate these crimes.”
If you need to report human trafficking or seek support services, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. In case of an emergency, call 911 or your local law enforcement.