- September 22, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Sexual Assault & Trafficking
It’s no revelation that Atlanta has a serious problem with sex trafficking. In 2014, Urban Institute published a study examining sex trafficking in eight of the U.S’s most notorious cities. Based on their findings, Atlanta’s sex trafficking industry had expanded significantly in the previous decade, surpassing even Miami’s.
Ever since these numbers came to light, Atlanta has been trying to shed its “Sex Trafficking Capital” reputation, with new anti-trafficking programs and stronger anti-trafficking laws. Unfortunately, judging by the latest FBI crackdown, that grim reputation still has a strong basis in fact.
As ever, teen girls bear the brunt of this horrifying phenomenon.
One Third of Trafficked Minors Found During Operation Cross Country Were in Georgia
Operation Cross Country is an FBI project, in which the Bureau coordinates with regional organizations to recover as many human trafficking victims and missing children as possible. As the name suggests, Operation Cross Country periodically sweeps the entire United States in search of victims and perpetrators.
The 12th and most recent wave of Operation Cross Country took place in early August and lasted two weeks. During that time, 85 suspected human traffickers and 225 possible victims were identified. The average age for the victims was between 15 and 16, and 84 of them were under 18 at the time when they were found.
Of those 84 underage victims from across the country, 28 were found in Georgia, mainly in the Metro Atlanta area. At least nine of them are confirmed to have been sexually exploited before the FBI intervention.
Wellspring Living, an Atlanta-based nonprofit focused on supporting survivors of trafficking, has expressed a lack of surprise, stating that Atlanta remains a particularly profitable area for pimps to operate, with high demand for victims.
Sex Trafficking Survivors, Especially Minors, Can Hold Complicit Businesses Accountable
In spite of so many apparent victims being found in Atlanta, only four of the suspected traffickers identified during Operation Cross Country XII were apprehended in the Atlanta area.
Even if more Atlanta-based traffickers had been caught, it wouldn’t necessarily make Atlanta safer in the long term, or make it easier for the survivors to rebuild their lives. Individual criminals are easily replaced within the human trafficking industry, and while they can be sued, they rarely have enough personal wealth to pay their victims the compensation they owe.
However, it is possible for survivors to strike a meaningful blow against sex trafficking, while simultaneously gaining the resources to fund their recoveries.
Sex trafficking depends heavily on the cooperation of otherwise legal businesses, such as:
- Hotels that host transactions
- Marketing services that allow sex traffickers to advertise
- Rideshare companies that transport victims
- Salon and fashion companies that tailor the victim’s appearance to the trafficker’s specifications
While legitimate companies sometimes have no way of knowing that they are enabling sex trafficking, many deliberately ignore or even welcome trafficking activities and the profits they bring.
Supporting sex trafficking in any way is illegal, and grounds for a lawsuit from the victims. Unlike individual traffickers, complicit companies can usually afford to pay victims significant settlements, but the cost can force them to reassess their business policies. The more companies decide that enabling sex trafficking isn’t worth the risk, the more difficult it becomes for sex traffickers to operate.
If you are one of the 28 minors found in Georgia during Operation Cross Country XII, or if you have also been sexually exploited in the Metro Atlanta area, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn more about your options for justice.