(Media release from the Office of Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr):
Attorney General Chris Carr is recognizing this January as Human Trafficking Prevention Month and (recognized) Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, as Human Trafficking Awareness Day by encouraging all Georgians to join in the fight to rid our state of human trafficking.
“Our Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit works year-round to rescue victims and put buyers and sellers behind bars,” said Carr. “We are proud to be in this fight with Governor Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, and all of our law enforcement partners as we continue to come together to protect Georgia’s children from those who would abuse and exploit them for sex. During Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we encourage all Georgians to learn the signs of human trafficking and how to report it, so we can shine a light on this horrific industry and ultimately save lives.”
Updates from the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit
In 2019, with the support of Governor Brian Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp and leaders in the Georgia General Assembly, Carr created the first-of-its-kind statewide Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
This Unit is complete with dedicated prosecutors, criminal investigators, analysts and a victim advocate. Together, they are working with all levels of law enforcement to identity, locate, and rescue victims across the state and to prosecute those who buy and sell them for sex.
In 2021 alone, the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit rescued and assisted 107 victims. Then, just last year, the Unit indicted more than 20 alleged traffickers and obtained multiple convictions and lengthy prison sentences.
During the 2022 legislative session, Carr secured additional resources to expand the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and rescue even more victims.
Highlights of recent cases are included below.
- On Aug. 26, 2022, Gregory Benoit pleaded guilty in Clayton County to one count of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude. A Clayton County Superior Court Judge sentenced the defendant to 15 years, including five years to be served in prison. This case marks the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit’s first conviction of a buyer and involves the sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old female victim.
- On Aug. 12, 2022, Devonta Alexander Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude. A Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge sentenced the defendant to 25 years, including 15 years to be served in prison. This case involves the sexual exploitation of a 14-year-old female victim.
- In October 2022, two alleged sellers and three alleged buyers were indicted in Cherokee and Fulton County. These two indictments involve the alleged trafficking of one underage female victim. Specifically, Cedric Johnson and Mark Thomas, who is facing charges in both counties, are alleged to have sold the underage victim for sex. Jose Medina Dominguez, Cesar Juarez Oaxaca and Ruben Tolentino are alleged to have purchased the underage victim for sex.
- On Jan. 13, 2022, two male-female pairs were indicted in Fulton County following the rescue of a 14-year-old female victim who had previously been missing from the College Park area for approximately seven weeks. The four defendants are facing multiple charges, including Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Cruelty to Children in the First Degree, Rape, Statutory Rape, Aggravated Assault and False Imprisonment. Two of the four defendants are also facing multiple human trafficking charges in DeKalb County as part of a separate indictment obtained on Nov. 29, 2022. Specifically, this second case stems from the alleged trafficking of a 16-year-old female victim in DeKalb County in December 2020.
- In November 2022, eight individuals were taken into custody following a major investigation conducted by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Section in partnership with the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and other law enforcement entities. This case involves the alleged trafficking of four female victims, including one minor. These eight individuals are facing a range of charges, including Conspiracy to Violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, Pimping and various weapons offenses.
Restriction and Vacatur Forms
Individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense while being trafficked or as a result of being trafficked may petition for vacatur or record restriction. These remedies are intended to remove barriers to employment, housing and other opportunities, and hopefully help to heal the trauma experienced by victims of sex and labor trafficking. The forms needed to complete the petition are provided by the Office of the Attorney General and can be found here.
For additional information, watch this PSA from First Lady Marty Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr.
For a comprehensive overview of human trafficking, Georgians are encouraged to take part in First Lady Marty Kemp’s Human Trafficking Awareness Training. The training is free and available online.
For Georgia professionals, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council offers a number of industry-specific resources, such as training opportunities for those in hospitality or law enforcement.
For educators and school resource officers, the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit has put together some important tips on how to recognize, prevent and report human trafficking among students.
Additional trainings are available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign and the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
If you suspect human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll free at (888) 373-7888.
To report suspected human trafficking in Georgia, call the Statewide 24-Hour Human Trafficking Hotline at (866) 363-4842.
If you have reason to believe that a victim is in imminent danger, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency to file a report.
For more information on how to get help for both national and foreign-born victims of human trafficking, visit www.endhtga.org.