Nearly 40 children are now safe after a major sex trafficking bust in Georgia that included the arrest of 9 suspects.
The groundbreaking bust, dubbed “Operation Not Forgotten,” spanned 20 counties around the metropolitan Atlanta area, according to WSB-TV Channel 2’s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief, Tony Thomas. The elaborate search involved both state and federal agents.
With the help of other agencies, U.S. Marshals Fugitive Hunters spent two weeks searching for the missing children in central and northern Georgia.
During the extensive search, children were found in Fulton, Forsyth, Clayton, and Gwinnett counties, among several others.
In total, “26 endangered children were recovered and another 13 missing children were found.”
The Service Director of U.S. Marshals, Donald Washington, feared that the kids they found were all “already or potential victims” of human trafficking and exploitation.
“These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions,” authorities explained. “Other children were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure their wellbeing.”
Thankfully, the nine suspects are currently being detained behind bars, as prosecutors begin to tackle the cases and healthcare and social workers tend to over three dozen traumatized children.
The sex trafficking suspects that were arrested include Moradeyo Amos Bandele, Trayon Moore, James Garcia, Faye Smith, Sally Garcia, Zachary Bailey, Stanson Causey, Kirk Waters, and Trevonte Shareef.
“One missing child is worth thousands, in my mind, of fugitives that we go out and get,” said Washington.
Governor Brian P. Kemp praised the efforts of the authorities and special investigation teams responsible for the huge rescue.
According to Attorney General Chris Carr, authorities will measure their success on “how many lives that we have saved and that will have a new and fresh start.”
Many cities across the United States have similar sex trafficking operations ongoing, but thus far, few have been completed.