Three Horry County men are charged in connection to a sex trafficking and child exploitation case, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Thursday.
The case involved activity that stretched from Arizona to South Carolina, with victims being from the Pee Dee and Midlands regions of South Carolina, according to Acting United States Attorney M. Rhett DeHart.
Theodore Woolings Bye, III, 36, of Myrtle Beach, Sanadin Mohamed Elrayes, 28, of Surfside Beach, and Charles Joseph Spillane, 44, of Myrtle Beach, were all charged in connection to the investigation. Victims were from the Pee Dee and Midlands, authorities said.
Bye has been charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, two counts of production of child pornography, two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, and possession of child pornography. Elrayes and Spillane have both been charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor.
According to the release, Hart William Grow, 25, of Surprise, Arizona, was also arrested in connection to the case and charged with conspiracy to sexually traffic a minor, sexual trafficking of minor, conspiracy to produce child pornography and to coerce and entice a minor, four counts of production of child pornography involving two victims, four counts of coercion and enticement of a minor involving two victims, and possession of child pornography.
Bye was booked at J. Reuben Long Detention Center back September 2020 by the Horry County Sheriffs Office. Elrayes and Spillane were booked at the J. Reuben Long on June 29 and June 30, respectively, by the United States Marshals.
Grow and Bye face a maximum penalty of life, and Elrayes and Spillane face a maximum penalty of five years.
The indictment alleged that Grow and Bye conspired to recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, maintain, patronize and solicit a minor victim in South Carolina to engage in a commercial sex act, according to the release. This had been going on since April 2020, the release said.
Authorities said Grow led various minors across the country via the internet to believe that he was also a minor and was looking for a relationship, doing so from his home in Arizona. In this case, Grow allegedly told a minor victim that he was a 17-year-old female named Hannah living in Columbia, South Carolina.
Using a false persona, authorities said Grow groomed the minor victim to fall in love with Hannah by promising love and affection. The indictment alleges that Grow then abused the trust with the minor to enter into a sexual dominant/submissive relationship, holding absolute power and control over the victim, and employed bondage/discipline, domination/submission, and sadism/masochism techniques, also known as BDSM.
According to the release, Grow threatened the victim by saying that if the victim did not obey the BDSM rules he made, the victim would be required to engage in often-violent sexual acts with adult men that the victim did not otherwise wish to engage with.
Court records show that Grow used message boards and social media to make his minor victim available to adult males for sexual encounters in exchange for the men sending visual depictions of the sexual encounters to him. Specifically, Grow required the adult males to produce, or assist in the production of, a visual depiction of the often-violent sexual acts. One of the men was Bye, authorities said.
According to the indictment, Bye, with the direction and logistical assistance of Grow, not only participated in the sexual acts with the victim but also made the victim available for sex to other men on numerous occasions. The indictment said Bye would transport the victim to various locations in and around Myrtle Beach for commercial sex acts, using internet message boards, social media, and text messages to make the victim available to other adult males for sexual encounters. The minor victim’s availability for the sexual encounters was predicated on the agreement with the adult males to produce and send visual depictions of the acts to Grow, according to the release.
The indictment goes on to say that Elrayes and Spillane responded to Bye’s internet postings and, after communicating with Bye via social media and text messages, engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the minor for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the acts. According to the indictment, the visual depictions with Elrayes were created at a hotel in Surfside Beach, and the visual depictions with Spillane were created at his Myrtle Beach home.
In early 2021, Grow began communicating with a second minor victim in South Carolina, the indictment said. According to Court records, Grow coerced the second minor into producing visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct until shortly before his arrest in Arizona.
According to court records, the defendants used social media applications, including Snapchat, Wattpad, and Kik to communicate with the victims and with each other. Grow used screen names, including “hgliese” and “hanners,” and aliases, including “Terry” and “Hannah,” when allegedly communicating with his victims.
“While this indictment speaks for itself, human trafficking and child exploitation are vile crimes, and this office will swiftly and aggressively prosecute those who prey upon minors,” DeHart said. “Our ability to address these cases hinges on the great work of our federal, state, and local partners. We also ask parents to be vigilant and to pay attention to your children’s online and social media activity. No demographic is immune from this type of crime, and no family with a computer or a phone is out of reach from these types of predators.”
South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said that this incident shows that human trafficking is real and is happening in South Carolina.
“We have and will continue to work in collaboration with our local and federal partners to rescue those being victimized and bring justice to those who profit from the misery of others,” Keel said.
Homeland Security Investigations, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and the Myrtle Beach Police Department are the investigating agencies in this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Derek A. Shoemake and Amy Bower are prosecuting the case.