Charlotte-Mecklenburg police can rightfully tout a decline in crime in this community over the past year. Through July, CMPD reported the number of serious crimes down 21 percent compared with the same six months last year. Property crime decreased 21 percent, and violent crime decreased 23 percent.
But our mouths dropped at this: Charlotte has become a center for sex trafficking along the East Coast. What?!
Many who've lived in Charlotte a long time tend to still think of it as a small town with a few big city baubles -- a half dozen or so Fortune 500 companies and a national bank headquarters (for now). But over the past few years, the city has acquired more than a few big city problems: surging homelessness, violent drug gangs ( Salvadoran, no less) and now illegal smuggling and sexual exploitation of young women. Charlotte has joined such international trafficking hubs as Bangkok and Mumbai and such domestic centers as New York and Washington.
The situation is so bad here that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has stationed agents in Charlotte to focus on human trafficking, smuggling and exploitation, the Observer's Franco Ordoñez reported Sunday. Agents have broken up immigration sex rings in Monroe, Durham and Columbia. Last April one of the most notorious operators in Charlotte, Jorge Flores Rojas, was convicted of sex trafficking and got a 24-year sentence. But officials say others continue to ply their trade here.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.