CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Thirty-year-old Tony Drum is charged with two counts of human trafficking of a child victim. Police say one of Drum’s victims, a girl under the age of 18, led them to him. When they arrested him along the 6100 block of Wilkinson Boulevard, they say a second girl was in his car.
Drum’s entry point: the Internet. Cops say Drum admitted to using online chat rooms to make contact with vulnerable kids before forcing them into prostitution. “The Internet has become a playground for this,” says Ashley Harkrader. She co-founded All We Want Is Love, an organization dedicated to stopping human trafficking.
She says there’s one big reason Charlotte is a hot bed for this modern day slavery: “Definitely the interstates. Transportation, it’s really easy to get girls in, really easy to get girls out,” she says.
Police say Drum picked up the girl in South Carolina (they won’t say what town) and took her back to Charlotte.
Drum’s alleged victim was walking along the 4400 block of Eddleman Road when cops stopped her. The officer says she was alone. Harkrader says that is rarely the case. She says, “The victim is never alone. There’s always somebody watching them.”
Often, the only time these victims are ever alone is the bathroom. Harkrader places soaps wrapped with “help” phone numbers in gas station restrooms, truck stops, hotels. This weekend, the soaps will be all over the Concord area. She says sporting events like stock car racing attract not only fans, but people looking for prostitutes. Harkrader says, “The NASCAR (event) this weekend is a huge thing.”
As for Drum, he remains behind bars under $300,000 bond, for now. Harkrader says, “He’s probably gonna get a slap on the wrist to be honest with you.” She says that’s because it’s difficult to prove all of the elements of human trafficking in court. The city of Charlotte is often ranked sixth in the US for human trafficking.