By GLENN COUNTS / NBC Charlotte, May 29, 2014
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have arrested three people on human trafficking charges.
Officers were called out to the Quality Inn on Griffith Street a couple of days ago to investigate a complaint.
They ended up arresting 42-year-old Jonathan Williams from Memphis, 20-year-old Melissa Barnes and 27-year-old Neela Arjoonsingh, both from Houston.
“It’s modern day slavery, that’s what it is,” said Dr. Joseph Kuhns, a professor of criminal justice at UNCC.
He is an expert on human trafficking and conducted a major study in the Philippines.
“I think it’s directly comparable. The difference is you’re having people work in the sex industry versus having them work in the fields or other kinds of manual labor, so human trafficking as a general rule is about slavery,” he said.
Police say the trio forced a 20-something year old woman to travel around the country with them against her will.
Sources say their ultimate landing spot could be San Antonio, where authorities want them extradited so they can face potential federal charges.
Charlotte investigators have launched an initiative designed to combat the problem. When officers get a complaint they may not be able to make a human trafficking case, but they gather as much information as possible on potential victims.
That information will tell them how widespread the problem is.
“It’s an area that we have ignored for a long period of time we need to do more about it in our country,” said Kuhns.
The three suspects are in the Mecklenburg County Jail under $250,000 bond apiece.