Second suspect arrested in human trafficking investigation, DA discusses trafficking trends

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —  A second suspect in a human trafficking case in Pender County has been arrested.

Demond Ca’Quan Tyre Conyers, 21, was arrested by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office for unrelated charges on Tuesday afternoon. He now faces charges for human trafficking and conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

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The Pender County Sheriff’s Office says its investigation stem from a website called “skipthegames.com”.

The sheriff’s office arrested 19-year-old Dwayne Jackson in July. He, along with Conyers are facing charges for human trafficking and promoting prostitution.

The District Attorney’s Office is now speaking about the nationwide issue and human trafficking trends it sees hear in the Cape Fear.

“This is something that lives in plain sight.,” District Attorney Ben David said. “They frequently meet their abuser online. The two most common sites that we’ve seen in our caseload are Facebook and Snapchat.”

In the age of social media, David says trafficking is still alive despite the effort to end it.

A Safe Place Program Director Dawn Ferrer says in 2019, they received 142 calls related to human trafficking in the Wilmington area.

“The younger generation is always on their phones, so their whole world ends up being whatever that social media is, and pimps know that,” Ferrer said. “Traffickers know that.”

Ferrer says traffickers typically prey on vulnerable young women and teens, and even those with special needs.

“They know who to prey on,” Ferrer said. “They read post that people put just to kind of target those who have low self esteem, problems at home, those types of things, and then they zoom in and they want to build that romantic relationship with them.”

Ferrer references previous prostitution websites which were shut down, saying as technology evolves, so do traffickers.

“All it does is make it go to another site,” she said. “Other sites pop up. I don’t know if there’s much anybody can do regarding those particular sites, because as long as there’s a demand for sex, there’s always going to be those types of sites.”

She urges parents to pay attention to what their kids are doing, and stay involved in their lives.

“Reinforcing interacting with them,” Ferrer said. “Asking them questions. Being aware of who they’re talking to.

David says the majority of cases they see in the Cape Fear involve local victims. He emphasizes the importance of noticing the signs of a potentially dangerous situation.

“Young people know more about computers than you do, but less about life, so talk to them about the dangers that are out there,” he said. “The great majority of human trafficking victims that we encounter in our caseloads, they don’t have a great support network.”

Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan says the State Bureau of Investigation’s task force team discovers an average of 24 human trafficking each year. Most of those cases, investigators uncovered without the victim coming forward.

In her many years with the DA’s Office, Jordan says she only recalls one case which was first reported by a victim.

Conyers is being held in the Brunswick County Jail.

Like many other agencies, Ferrer says the pandemic has limited A Safe Place’s outreach programs, but she says you can always reach them at their hotline, 855-723-7529.