CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Almost a dozen human trafficking victims were rescued in the days leading up to the events surrounding the Coca-Cola 600 last week, according to ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations.
One human trafficking survivor tells FOX 46 she knows exactly what those victims experienced.
“When they were physically doing something to my body, I was out of my body. I wasn’t even there. God allowed me to be out of the hurt.”
EleSondra “El” DeRomano is a survivor. She says her father was a pimp and her mom was a prostitute, and she was forced into sex trafficking around the age of eleven.
“I’m literally saving people’s lives when I tell my story.”
The feds sent Fox 46 pictures of a major undercover operation during race week last week around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Homeland Security Investigations says they worked with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement targeting human traffickers and rescuing eleven victims just days before the Coca-Cola 600 this past Sunday.
“Even just very practically speaking there’s a large gathering of men, and often times they’re not there with their family or their wives or their children, and it just is really an easy formula and traffickers know that and so they bring the supply to where the demand will be.”
Hannah Arrowood runs Present Age Ministries, an organization that was on hand during the race week operation to connect human trafficking victims with resources.
Arrowood also works to make parents aware of the risks of their children becoming victims.
“You’re helping someone recognize that there is life after what has happened to them”
Three people were arrested during the race week operation, according to the SBI. And officials say they gained valuable intel from victims about potential traffickers.
El says taking care of the victims after the rescue is just as important as the rescue itself. She wants victims to know there’s hope.
“It’s going to be a fight for your life, but your life is worth it.”
If you suspect human trafficking, call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more on what to watch out for, click here.