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Myrtle Beach Police make arrest in human trafficking investigation

Jesse David Parks/WPDE

Myrtle Beach police arrested a 31-year-old man during a human trafficking investigation at the Suburban Lodge on Frontage Road.

Arrest reports show Jesse David Parks Jr. held a woman against her will in a room at the lodge and the victim told detectives that Parks beat her and kept her there for at least a week. Police said the number of sex trafficking cases are down overall, but this time of the year is when they tend to see more activity. Officials stated, sex trafficking isn’t just a Myrtle Beach problem, its a nationwide problem.

"Myrtle Beach Police Department has had some great success," said Myrtle Beach Police Detective Peter Woods.

Parks was arrested on charges of trafficking and kidnapping, and Woods said Parks’ arrest was a team effort.

"We have a group effort from our patrol officers, to our officers assigned to the water front division, and our officers assigned to the street crimes units and our investigative unit where we actively are pursuing people we believe are traffickers," said Woods.

Arrest warrants show the victim was asked to perform sex acts for money several times a day for a week.

Woods said sometimes similar cases are harder because the victims often can do more harm than good.

"When we do find a victim who’s obviously a juvenile where I can't go into the facts of their case, but when we get them back to a safe place, where they do run away again, that’s not uncommon and that also hurts for our criminal cases when they do that," said Woods.

Officials said sex trafficking cases are easier to spot in the off season for a number of reasons.

"We can focus on it, where we can focus on if a male comes into town, rents four or five hotel rooms and has six or seven girls with him who do not seem to be family or friends and it seems as though he controls everything," said Woods.

Woods said education and action can help end human trafficking within the city.

“Our waterfront division is going to start distributing human trafficking posters and also go from place to place in the off season speaking about what to look for, indicators, which is encouraging because the more knowledge there is, that way we can save people," said Woods.

Many hotel owners in Myrtle Beach said they have extensive training plans for employees on what to look for when it comes to human trafficking. Big chain hotels like the Marriott and Hilton stated they follow state laws, which require posters with a hotline number be posted throughout their hotels if victims need help.

A judge set Parks' bond at $115,000 in a hearing on Monday and as of Tuesday evening, he remains in the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

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