15 charged in Carowinds Boulevard sex sting in prostitution probe, police say

Police charged 15 people in York County with prostitution, drug and traffic offenses after an Internet sting at a Carowinds Boulevard are motel, officers said.

The operation involved local, state and federal law enforcement, said Marvin Brown, commander of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit. The sting focused on advertisements and information posted on websites, Brown said.

After interviewing people who showed up at the motel after contact was made online, officers found prostitution but not trafficking of people, Brown said.

“We interviewed all the people who went to the motel and determined that it was prostitution, which is against the law,” Brown said.

Several of the people charged came from other states including North Carolina, police said.

“Law enforcement in York County is committed to safety for our citizens,” York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said Friday morning after the arrests. “It’s a reminder to those from out of state that you cannot come to York County and commit crime without consequences.”

Police declined to release the name of the motel that was used.

Most of the people arrested are charged with prostitution, according to police and jail records. One person is facing felony drug charges after cocaine and ecstasy were seized, Brown said. Heroin also was found, police said.

The operation went on from around 7 p.m. Thursday until early Friday morning, said Lt. Heath Clevenger of the York County Sheriff’s Office special operations team. The task force of about 30 officers included sheriff’s office deputies, York County drug agents, State Law Enforcement Division officers, and federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, police officials said.

Victim assistance officials also were on scene to determine if the people involved had been coerced or forced into activities by others, police said.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.