FBI agent: Officers specifically chose local hotel to host prostitution arrests

The Hilton Garden Inn (WPDE)

A FBI agent told ABC15 that officers, not prostitutes, chose the hotel that undercover agents would eventually conduct a sting operation at last week.

Myrtle Beach police arrested four people for prostitution at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport in Myrtle Beach on Oct. 12 through Oct. 15.

"We had to have a facility that allowed everybody to be safe," FBI agent Donald Wood explained. "The agents, task force officers, and the people we were going to arrest. Because in a sense, they're victims too if they're victims of human trafficking."

As of Thursday night, no charges have been filed for trafficking.

It doesn't surprise Betty Houbion, a local advocate for victims of human trafficking, who says traffickers are getting smarter.

"I hate to talk about victims as product, but from a trafficker's point of view, that's exactly what they are," she said. "They are there to sell."

Wood told ABC15 that a giveaway that agents are dealing with trafficking victims is when they have to go through a third party to get prostitutes. He said agents usually confirm it when they question the people they arrest.

As for spotting a human trafficking victim yourself, Houbion said trust your gut.

"Always look for something that's not quite right," she said. "Pay attention to that inner sense."

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