- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - A North Carolina man has been arrested on charges that he forced a 19-year-old female Fort Bragg soldier into prostitution.

Jibri Thomas is accused of exploiting the soldier from August until December while she lived in barracks on the Army base, The Fayetteville Observer reported Friday (https://bit.ly/1L3hKzM).

Thomas, 23, turned himself in to police Jan. 11. He was being held at the Cumberland County jail on a $400,000 bail. He faces state charges of human trafficking and promoting prostitution, as well as federal charges of racketeering and transporting for prostitution. Thomas’ attorney, Meleaha Kimrey, did not immediately respond to a request for comment left with a woman who answered the phone at her office.

Court documents cited by the newspaper allege Thomas recruited and transported the soldier with the intent of holding her in “involuntary servitude” for prostitution, and police reports accuse Thomas of pocketing a portion of the payments. Police have refused to give any details on the coercion.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said officials don’t know of any other such case at Fort Bragg, one of the nation’s largest military installations with roughly 56,000 troops. But he said Army officials are there to help others who may find themselves in the same situation.

Pete Twedell, director of the counter-human trafficking nonprofit 5 Sparrows, said he’s heard of several cases in the region involving soldier victims over the past four years.

“Human trafficking is a real and growing problem that affects all strata of our society, including Fort Bragg,” Twedell told the newspaper.

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, https://www.fayobserver.com

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