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Child Exploitation
04/11/2013

HSI arrests South Carolina man for child sex trafficking

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina man arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents on child sex trafficking charges made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday.

Booker T. Vanderhorst, 65, of Charleston, has been indicted on one count each of sex trafficking of children and use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity. Vanderhorst was also indicted on a third count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

According to an indictment unsealed in federal court, between July and October 2012 Vanderhorst prostituted a minor female he knew to be under the age of 18. He was arrested without incident Thursday by HSI.

The sex trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years, and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. Use of interstate commerce carries a maximum sentence of five years, and the firearm possession charge carries a maximum sentence of ten years.

Assistant United States Attorney Nathan Williams of the U.S. Attorney's Office for South Carolina's Charleston office is prosecuting the case.

Charges in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.