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Crime Report - Feb. 6, 2018

EPD case could touch on human trafficking

Posted: February 7, 2018 2:14 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Elgin Police Department (EPD)

Elgin police recently forwarded a case concerning people not having a business license to sell jewelry in town to immigration officials.

According to an EPD report, an officer was patrolling the 1100 block of Rose Street near Main Street on the afternoon of Jan. 13 when a man ran up behind their patrol car to make contact with them. The man told the officer that a woman was attempting to sell jewelry at The Lunch Box. The officer went to the business and later identified her as a 26-year-old woman from the Solomon Islands. She initially gave a different year of birth and could only produce a business card for a North Main Street, Sumter, location where she may have spent the previous night. The woman claimed she was working on her “mission,” selling jewelry she claimed she made by hand through a program out of New Jersey.

The woman said she was dropped off in Elgin by her “captain,” a woman later identified as a 33-year-old woman whose identification indicated she lived in Leonia, N.J. The Solomon Islands woman said she was part of a program called “International Leadership Training Program” out of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. She produced laminated colored sheets of the program showing where the money from “mission” sales goes and a photo of the stones she was selling for a “donation.” She also had a receipt book to track her sales. She said if the officer called the number on the sheets, a Mr. Kim would answer and be able to confirm her identity. Meanwhile, she could not produce any documentation, claiming the New Jersey woman was holding her passport.

The officer had the woman sit in the back of their patrol car to keep warm as she was only wearing a sweater and scarf for protection with temperatures in the 40s. She said she was originally from Fiji.

Due to indicators of human trafficking, the officer contacted EPD Chief Harold Brown.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey woman arrived and she said she, too, was only in the country temporarily (her country of origin was not listed in the report) and the temporary resident status on her driver’s license had expired in December. However, she claimed she had already completed the proper forms to extend her status. She claimed that the amount of jewelry expected to be sold each day were “challenges,” and that they are provided an allowance if they do not make sales.

The first woman produced a laminated copy of her passport, but the officer said they would need to see the original. The second woman initially said she was in charge, but -- after being issued the summons for not having a business license -- backed off from that claim. She also called her traveling companions “sisters,” and said they were from Thailand and the Philippines. She said two of the members had been dropped off a Camden McDonald’s, but city officers said employees there did not see anyone like them trying to sell items. When asked many of the same questions asked of the Solomon Islands woman, the New Jersey woman answered with what appeared to the officer as trained responses.

The first woman finally produced her original passport with a Los Angeles airport stamp from October 2017. After returning to the officer’s patrol car, she said she would stay in the program, referencing “protection” she received by staying in it, but refusing to provide further information.

After issuing a summons to the New Jersey woman to appear in municipal court, that woman said they would be out of South Carolina by the court date. At that point, the scene was cleared. In their report, the officer requested that a copy of it be forwarded to immigration officials for review.

The EPD also reported the following other recent incidents:

An officer arrested a 30-year-old Elgin woman around 3 p.m. Jan. 23 after stopping the car in which she was a passenger because she and the male driver were not wearing seatbelts. During the subsequent stop, the officer reported smelling the odor of raw marijuana coming from the car. The driver admitted to having a couple of grams of marijuana, which -- at the officer’s instruction -- he retrieved and handed over. At this point, the officer instructed both subjects to step out of the vehicle and asked them if there any firearms present. Both of them reportedly said there was a pistol in the back floorboard in a book bag. The woman said it belonged to a friend at the dance club in Columbia where they work. Along with the Rugar P89, there was a magazine and ammunition in the bag. During a further search of the vehicle, the officer found a digital scale with marijuana. The officer cited the male driver with a seatbelt violation, drug equipment violations and displaying/carrying firearms. He also cited the woman for a seatbelt violation and display/carrying firearms. In addition, the officer learned that the woman was wanted by both the Kershaw and Pickens county sheriff’s offices and was taken into custody.

Just before midnight New Year’s Eve, dispatchers sent officers to an Abbey Road address in response to a fireworks fire that was spreading to the lawn of Leslie M. Stover Middle School. An officer responded to the school and met with a 47-year-old Elgin man who said he had been setting off fireworks in the school’s two-lane entrance. He said the fireworks fell over and shot into the grass igniting the fires. The officer observed a burned area of grass to the east of the drive, which the man said had been extinguished. Two other officers went to the back yard of the Abbey Road address along with the Blaney Fire Department to extinguish a fire there in the back yard.

Two people living on Needle Palm Way said someone unlawfully entered their vehicles sometime before 5:30 a.m. Jan. 17. Nothing was taken from either vehicle.

Elgin officers also assisted other agencies and dealt with recent incidents involving assault (including assault by intimidation), breach of peace, child restraint violation, disturbing school, DUI, driving under suspension, family court/protection order violation, hit and run, larceny, marijuana possession, mentally disturbed individual, motor vehicle break-in, no driver’s license, possession of drug paraphernalia, shoplifting, trespassing, unlawful dumping, vandalism and welfare checks.

Camden Police Department (CPD)

Someone vandalized a pool house at a home on the 1500 block of Broad Street sometime before 2:30 p.m. Jan. 21, causing about $500 worth of damage. A woman living at the residence said she was doing some backyard maintenance when a dog approached her in an aggressive manner. She said when she waved the dog off, it exited through her property’s rear fence. After securing the fence, she noticed an electronic noise coming from the pool house and noticed what officers wrote as “a dark figure in what appeared to be a black sweat shirt and blue jeans run away to the neighboring property.” That was when she noticed the vandalism to the pool house, which had been vacant and unused for a few years. It appeared someone had brought numerous items, such as a TV, table and chairs. There was graffiti on the walls and cabinets, a glass water bong with burnt marijuana in it, an empty liquor bottle, a small orange pill container and grey-and-green jacket.

Officers arrested a 35-year-old Camden woman on the evening of Jan. 21 after people living on the 1200 block of Mill Street complained she was knocking on doors asking for money. When confronted by police, the woman reportedly denied asking anyone for money, and became loud and began cursing. During a subsequent search, officers found a crack pipe and arrested her for possession of drug paraphernalia, public disorderly conduct and begging. One of the complainants confirmed for officers that the woman did knock on their door and ask for money.

A 55-year-old Elgin man may face charges of second-degree assault following allegations that he grabbed a 35-year-old woman by the neck at a Camden residence and, in a separate incident, unzipped her sweater and looked down her shirt in addition to allegedly pressuring the woman into going to his house and showing up at her residence without permission.

A woman living on Cureton Street said she believes a Kershaw man she hired to do some work on her house took a bottle of Xanax and 31 pills of oxycodone on Jan. 29. She said she deadbolts the door to the bedroom where the medication is kept and noticed that the top hinge pin had been removed.

A CPD officer took a 15-year-old girl into emergency protective custody following a series of incidents at KershawHealth and after she allegedly struck one of her family members in the head after leaving the hospital grounds on Jan. 29.

A 52-year-old Camden man may face charges of second-degree assault after allegedly grabbing his 47-year-old girlfriend around the neck and choking her on Jan. 27.

Someone stole a black Ford F-350 pickup truck parked on Rapid Run sometime between 1 and 7 a.m. Jan. 28.

Camden officers also dealt with recent incidents involving attempted burglary, confidence game, credit/debit card fraud, harassment, identity theft, malicious injury to property, marijuana possession, public disorderly conduct (in one case also resulting in resisting arrest), shoplifting, theft from a motor vehicle and trespassing.

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO)

County deputies recently dealt with incidents involving breach of peace, breaking into a motor vehicle, discharging firearms into a dwelling, driving under suspension, failure to stop for blue light, grand larceny of a motor vehicle, habitual offender, harassment, larceny (including grand larceny), malicious injury to property, marijuana possession, methamphetamine possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of Schedule IV controlled substance, possession of a stolen handgun, providing false information to law enforcement, public disorderly conduct, open container, resisting arrest, restraining order (harassment injunction), second-degree burglary, second-degree domestic violence, sex offender registry violation, speeding (including more than 26 mph over the speed limit), third-degree assault and battery, third-degree burglary, third-degree domestic violence, unlawful carrying of a weapon, unlawful use of 911, unlawful use of telephone and use of vehicle without permission.

(Incident reports are provided by the Camden and Elgin police departments and are a matter of public record under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act. If the C-I makes a mistake, it will correct it upon verification with the appropriate law enforcement agency. Readers are cautioned that other individuals may have similar or identical names as those contained in incident reports. All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

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