Local News

Fayetteville mother's arrest sheds light on human trafficking problem

Posted November 16, 2009
Updated November 17, 2009

— North Carolina is a prime destination for human trafficking due to its many highways and interstates, according to Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange.

"It’s out there. It’s out there (and it's) scary,” she said.

Kinnaird has sponsored anti-trafficking legislation before the General Assembly. She said the weekend arrest of a Fayetteville mother on human trafficking and felony child abuse charges shows that the trafficking trade is more prevalent than most people realize.

“I think people just have a view of what our American life is, and it doesn't encompass really evil criminal acts like this,” she said.

According to Fayetteville police, Antoinette Nicole Davis, 25, offered daughter Shaniya for prostitution. The 5-year-old's body was found Monday afternoon southeast of Sanford, ending a weeklong search, police said.

Kinnaird said if Shaniya was involved in a sex trafficking plot, she is among other victims in the state.

“Many of them are Asian women and children. Many of them are Hispanic women and children. But as we saw to our horror (possibly with Shaniya), they are now homegrown, and may have been all along,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 17,500 people are trafficked in the United States annually. Victims are forced into sex and slave labor.

Earlier this year, a Durham couple pleaded not guilty in an Egyptian court to charges that they tried to buy babies and forge birth certificates.

In 2007, investigators busted Durham and Raleigh brothels where they suspected women were kept as sex slaves. Detectives also raided a club that year with alleged ties to immigrant traffickers.

Paralegal Rachel Braver, with the statewide Task Force (RIPPLE) to address Human Trafficking, said the state's large immigrant population also plays a part in attracting human traffickers. She said it is difficult to know just how many victims are out there.

“Numbers are hard to come by because it's a very hidden crime,” she said.

State lawmakers approved a bill in 2007 making human trafficking a felony offense and offering state assistance to victims.

Polaris Project, one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S., ranks the state among the top 10 for laws governing human trafficking.


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  • happycolors Nov 18, 2009

    I really wish that people would finally get angry and upset enough over all the innocent children that are kidnapped everyday and used and just thrown away. I wish they would
    gather in numbers to demand a new law that would make it
    really bad to the ones who commit these crimes ..such as to
    have ways of doing the very same thing to them as they did
    to their victims and .... let everyone see and know that's
    what will happen when you hurt another person. This sounds
    really awful... but not as awful as the killing and torturing these bad people do. No one thinks of what that child or that man or that woman or little boy is feeling knowing they are going to be tortured or killed... the fear and terror. Yes, I do wish that people who do these terrible deeds should be tortured and killed just in the same manner as their victims. I wonder how brave and bad they would be then.

  • wildcat Nov 17, 2009

    This mother and the kidnapper needs to talk and tell the officers and FBI/SBI the truth in what happen to this precious child. Why go to prison alone when there was someone else involved?

    If the sister was not involved with this man, why was the mother? This shows what drugs will do to a person.

  • wildcat Nov 17, 2009

    Trafficking children is so awful. Parents keep a more careful watch on your children. No more being outside alone. Know the people who come to your home and hang around. Make it safe for your children.

  • tafiliclan1 Nov 17, 2009

    More laws will not solve any of our current problems we are having.You take a child's life, the law takes yours(Capital punishment).That is basic math.
    Here is a thought. What if we register(GPS) every child until they reached the age of 18. That way law enforcement can track them for their safety.If they are in a danger zone they can send a team before a crime is comitted. This is just a thought.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 17, 2009

    I'm sorry...drug abuse and alcoholism are NOT diseases. They are self inflicted conditions and have absolutely nothing to do with "catching something". We only started calling calling these conditions diseases in order to make them more "acceptible". You catch a cold or catch the flu through no fault of your own. Abusing alcohol or drugs is simply something a person chooses to do to him or herself.

  • Kelondris Nov 17, 2009

    As much as I would hate to say this, but since we have such a great highway system . . . it might be worth it to put toll booths on 95 where workers may catch criminals transporting. Even if it is only a $.25 toll just that slow down could may a difference in saving a life. It really angers me to see anyone abuse a child!!

  • djbyrdnc Nov 17, 2009

    So Sen. Ellie Kinnard wants to refile a bill, and what would you Sen. think the penalty should be for this crime, I sure not the death penalty. But because our of gov. being so busy with everything else we can not even put someone to death now, but Virginia can. What is the general assembly doing about the death penalty, noting as usual. What ids the attorney general doing to get the death penalty restarted? nothing. Good jobs guys. We need to sit an example of the people involved in this. But they will out live all of us. That is the reason the death penalty does not work, it takes to long.

  • ccarrera951 Nov 17, 2009

    I don't think there is any comparison to a child being allowed to go with a man for sexual persons, and a drunk driver hitting another car. Adults are suppose to look out for children and treat them good, not harm them mentally, physically and psychologically. RIP Shaniya, I love you and many other people do as well, enjoy playing with your friends in heaven, you are a beautiful little angel.

  • discowhale Nov 17, 2009

    This problem doesn't get solved with conservative judges or liberal rehabs. It gets solved by having a society where families remain families.

    Where adults take care of their children. And look after the welfare of ALL the children around them too. And where children are taught right from wrong.

    Where people live for each other, love each other and put ME,ME, ME last. Where living as a family is more important than text messaging co-workers or friends. Where people know who the Mayor, Senators, Congressman and President are. Where peoples interest in voting for public offices, is bigger than voting for American Idol.

    We need a society so appalled at a 5 y/o girl being sold into slavery, or who are so worried about children being raised safely, that NO ONE in that child's life would, "...give Mom a chance".

    You want to see if the addict in your family has changed? Get them a dog, see if it gets fed.

    They do not get a CHILD to use as little more than a science experiment!!

  • ccarrera951 Nov 17, 2009

    This is so heartbreaking. A dad pretty much forced to let his daughter go, and trusting that she would be okay. My Mom use to live in Tampa, Fla, and told me of being at a McDonald's one day near Busch Gardens and a man was pimping his own young child (approx. 5 years old). I've got to where I can't open up all the articles there are on the internet news (MSNBC, CNN, FOX) because you get way more awful details than you can stomach, especially when it is regarding children, though I feel for adults tortured and abused as well. All I can say is take pictures if you feel something isn't right, write down license plates, call the Police, report to DSHS.

    I think the media did a terrible thing showing the child's face in the picture of him holding her inside the hotel. They could have covered her face. I'm not related , but that picture will haunt me for a long time. The fear and pain that child experienced inside that hotel room, no child should ever have to experience.