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Two Harlan County men arrested and charged with Human Trafficking involving a female juvenile

From The Harlan County Sheriff's Office/London PD

Two arrest have been made in connection to a Human Trafficking case involving a teenager after an extensive investigation.


On Monday, January 30, 2023 a Harlan County Deputy Sheriff was flagged down while on patrol and alerted of an alleged incident of a man attempting to buy nude photographs of a teenage girl. This allegation lead to an investigation conducted by Sergeant Geary Ferguson.


Through an extensive investigation, Sergeant Ferguson found evidence of a plot between two men to promote human trafficking by selling nude photographs of a juvenile female. Sergeant Ferguson obtained two arrest warrants on the male suspects .


On Tuesday, February 28th, 28-year-old Justin Harris of Harlan was arrested and lodged in the Harlan County Detention Center charged with Promoting Human Trafficking Victim 16 years old or younger. He made his $30,000 cash bond and was released the next day.


On Sunday, March 12th 35-year-old Shawn Smith of Cumberland was arrested in London by LPD Ofc. Dylan Messer for Human Trafficking Commercial Sex Activity. According to the London PD - After pulling a vehicle over for traffic offenses, the London Police Department learned the driver was wanted for human trafficking—commercial sex activity in a case originating from Harlan.


Messer stated in his report that he observed a vehicle traveling on the Hal Rogers Parkway with the rear license plate not illuminated and missing a passenger-side mirror. After stopping the vehicle, he learned the title had been junked and the registration was canceled. The vehicle had a cracked windshield and there were bags and clothes piled up in the back seat, obstructing the driver’s view of the rear.


Smith was driving on a suspended license and the officer learned that he was wanted on a Harlan District Court complaint warrant. Smith was arrested and lodged in the Laurel County Correctional Center on the human trafficking warrant along with violation of an emergency protective order, operating on a suspended or revoked license, license to be in possession, improper or no windshield, and other traffic charges. He is being held on a $15,000 cash bond.


This case remains under investigation and more charges are pending.

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