Atlanta, Georgia is a city known for many things: Hip hop music, Coca Cola, strip clubs, sports failures, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of human trafficking.
That’s because Atlanta, formerly known as “Terminus” on account of all of the railroad tracks that converge within the southern capital, is a transportation hub like no other on the east coast. Not only do major, lengthy highways come together in the Peach State’s crown jewel, but The A is also home to the world’s busiest airport. The black market, whether it be drugs or guns or bodies, flows through Atlanta.
This week, federal authorities may have put a major dent in at least one of these clandestine pipelines.
The U.S. Marshals Service found 39 missing children in Georgia over two weeks in a mission known as “Operation Not Forgotten,” the agency announced in a press release Thursday. The operation led to the rescue of 26 children and the safe location of 13 others.
“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,” the press release reads.
“Other children were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure their wellbeing,” the release continues. “USMS investigators were able to confirm each child’s location in person and assure their safety and welfare.”
There was a significant criminal element involved as well.
Nine criminal associates were also arrested and investigators cleared 26 arrest warrants. Investigators also filed additional charges for alleged crimes related to sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, drugs and weapons possession, and custodial interference, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child,” Darby Kirby, chief of the Missing Child Unit, said in a statement.
One can only hope that these arrests will lead to further infiltration of the heinous practice of child trafficking.
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