IT MAY NOT BE THE LARGEST NUMBERS THAT SURPRISE
YOU THE MOST, BUT RATHER THE SMALLEST.
Together, We CAn
Human trafficking is an unthinkable crime with astonishingly high statistics.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says the United States is
ranked one of the worst countries globally for human trafficking with an
estimated 199,000 incidents every year.
Existing in every region of the world, this criminal enterprise generates
$150 billion per year according to the International Labor
This is the average number of years trafficking victims can expect to
live if they are unable to break free from their trafficker — and the
majority never do.
SEX TRAFFICKING is one of five
types of human trafficking and
it is modern slavery. It is defined
by performing commercial sex
through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
Trafficking is a crisis that affects millions
of people, including many from our own
country, state and community. North
Carolina has been ranked in the top 10 states
in the nation for reports of human traffick-ing.
The creation of I-40 into Wilmington
was a blessing in that it moves people to
the region, but it also quickly became an
artery for the billion-dollar
sex industry. Interstates 85 and 95, along
with the locations of the state’s military
bases and the port system, contribute to
Lee Anna Stoker, co-founder and exec-utive
director of First Fruit Ministries,
understands just how close this global
crisis comes to home.
For over 20 years, she and her husband,
Rick Stoker, have been serving men and
women at the nexus of homelessness,
poverty, sex trafficking and commercial
sex work as a survival strategy. Both
have extensive personal and professional
in-depth experience in each aspect of
what they do.
Lee Anna Stoker acknowledges that
Wilmington has a solid network of
resources, but the community’s trafficking
response was happening in what she calls
silos. She describes this as each resource
in the network is operating independently
and not sharing information.
She believed if she could help bring
key problem solvers from Myrtle Beach,
Jacksonville, Fayetteville and Wilmington
together, the trafficking response a victim
receives could be revolutionized.
In early 2021, Stoker created an initiative
called Collaborative Against Sex Trafficking