Atlanta, GA – WABE News is airing a comprehensive series on the sex trafficking of Atlanta minors.
These reports will chronicle the prostitution of children; who these children are, how they're lured and who's helping to rescue them right here in Atlanta.
From the streets to the internet, child sex trafficking is a significantly larger problem in Georgia than most people realize, and it has an international component.
According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 12 million people are victims of international human trafficking – which includes child sex trafficking. Yet it's one of the most under reported crimes.
The following is a conversation with Brock Nicholson of ICE- Immigration and Customs Enforcement about In the Atlanta area, the problem is growing, says Brock Nicholson of ICE- Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Atlanta area.
Nicholson: “I can't give you specific numbers . I can tell you the number of victims we've seen has increased”
Nicholson says ICE works with local, state, and federal law enforcement to try to break up these rings.
Nicholson: “A recent case we did involved 13 young girls, the youngest being 14, that were brought in from Mexico. Turned out to be monster that convinced these girls they were coming to be his boyfriend, they got them into the U.S and Atlanta, and immediately forced them
WABE: How do you find these people?
Nicholson: “We're looking into massage parlors and other exotic dance clubs, where recently we've seen some investigations of eastern European women. But a lot of what we see and what we're finding are in residential neighborhoods, where men patronize brothels created within a residential neighborhood where they don't gather much attention, it's only known to a select group of individuals. They know the clients, usually from the same ethnic base. It's like a self contained business. They're not doing a lot of advertising and when they do so it's done by word of mouth.
WABE: So the international trafficking scenario sounds a lot different from domestic scenario where there is a lot of internet advertising.
Nicholson: “In what we've seen yes. We haven't seen a lot of our investigations that were advertised via the internet. We've seen family based organizations, not just men, men and women that are involved in probably most heinous crimes. I know it's shocking to me and to a lot of my agents when they encounter women forcing and tricking other women into this.”
Nicholson says the international airport is just one of a few factors factors making Atlanta a trafficking hub.
Nicholson: “We're a large population city, here in Atlanta, but also surrounded by rural areas, where there are farm workers, and other ethnic groups that patronize some of these sex areas and they're illegal as well. They're easy way for traffickers to hide within that population group. It's the same reason we see a lot of narco traffickers in the area.”
WABE: How do you propose people bring awareness to the general population that this is going on and what can they do about it?
Nicholson: “We have a tip line, call a police officer. Tell a priest, tell somebody that something doesn't seem right. Have them call. Look for things that seem unordinary to you. If you live in a neighborhood and see ten young girls going in and the guy says these are my nieces, that's not normal. Don't confront the guy. We're not asking you to confront neighbors, but call somebody. Say something to somebody. It may be nothing. But it may be something.”
Victims of international trafficking are not deported. They may be interviewed, assessed, or put into a shelter for safety and referred to non-profit organizations or immigration attorneys.
The ICE tip line: 24 hours a day – 1-866-dhs-2ice.
Anyone can call anonymously