SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – Sheriff Chuck Wright on Thursday announced multiple arrests have been made in a prostitution and human trafficking investigation.
Wright said 21 people were taken into custody during a two-day operation. 15 were charged with prostitution and 6 were charged with solicitation of prostitution.
The 13 suspects who were named in a news conference Thursday included 12 men and one woman.
MUG SHOTS: Suspects charged after human trafficking & prostitution investigation in Spartanburg County
Spartanburg County deputies released the names, mug shots and charges of 13 people who were among 21 arrested in a 2-day human trafficking and prostitution operation. The remaining names and mug shots were withheld because Sheriff Chuck Wright said those suspects may also be human trafficking victims.
The suspects are:
- Nicholas Ingram, charged with and possession of meth
- Matthew Scharlan, charged with prostitution
- Alejandro Rodriguez-Perez, charged with prostitution
- Jeremy Kneisley, charged with prostitution
- Usher Dickens, charged with prostitution
- William Michael Young, charged with prostitution
- Wayne Thurman, charged with prostitution, habitual traffic offender, driving under suspension
- Thomas Williamson, charged with prostitution
- Krist Roker, charged with prostitution, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of meth, and unlawful carry of firearm
- Michael Walker, charged with prostitution
- Erike Goode, charged with prostitution
- Rusty Reeves, charged with prostitution
- Annie Firebaugh, charged with prostitution, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of meth, and unlawful carry of firearm.
The sheriff said Firebaugh came to the sting to meet a client with her 10-month-old in the car with her. DSS took custody of the child. Wright said Roker transported Firebaugh to the location.
Wright said the operation also said weapons, drugs, and stolen credit cards were seized in the sting.
The sting took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Wright said deputies worked with Homeland Security to identify and assist victims of human trafficking.
Lt. Kevin Bobo released this statement on the operation:
This operation was conducted by utilizing undercover investigators who communicated with females engaged in the commercial sex trade. An exchange of commercial sex for money was agreed upon, and the females came to a prearranged location. At this time, the females were taken into custody where they were interviewed by investigators and victims advocates to assist them in any way. Some of these females were found to be under the influence of narcotics as well as in possession of narcotics at the time. One female was also charged with resisting arrest. One of the females was also transported to SRMC for medical treatment for what appeared to an abscess on her arm. This was determined by doctors to be an infected broken needle from previous heroin use. She was provided treatment for this and admitted to SRMC.
During this process, investigators located multiple individuals who were responsible for transporting the females to the location for the purpose of commercial sex. These individuals were also taken into custody and charged with prostitution. Further investigation into these individuals uncovered evidence of other crimes as well. These include Possession of Methamphetamine (3 counts), PWID Heroin (2 counts), Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon (2 counts), Possession of Schedule II, Possession of Schedule III, Driving Under Suspension 3rd, Habitual Traffic Offender, and Financial Transaction Card Theft.
The operation continued on Wednesday, targeting potential "johns," or suspects who solicit commercial sexual services.
Bobo described this second day's operation as follows:
During this portion of the operation, an online ad was posted by investigators. Six male individuals responded to the ad and agreed to exchange a value of US currency for commercial sex acts. These male individuals were then provided a location to meet an undercover officer where they provided US currency to the undercover officer. At this time, they were taken into custody and charged with Solicitation of Prostitution. One of the males also brought a quantity of methamphetamine to the location with him. Charges for Possession of Methamphetamine are pending on this individual. There are further investigations that remain active in reference to possible human trafficking charges.
“If we saved just one person from being human trafficked then we’ve done a good thing,” Wright said.
Wright also had a message for anyone being trafficked. He said anyone who calls for his deputies’ help will get it.
“No matter what you’ve been threatened with, if you get to 911, we’ll help you.”
MORE NEWS - CDC warns of deadly drug-resistant salmonella