Augusta, GA

Tactics Used

Buyer Arrests
Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

Augusta is a city of about 200,000 residents located to the east of Atlanta.  It is officially the consolidated city-county of Augusta–Richmond County, and is situated along Interstate 20 on the central eastern border of Georgia, across the Savannah River from South Carolina.  It is Georgia’s second-largest city after Atlanta. Prostitution activity has been documented in the city for decades, driving a wide range of related crimes and negative outcomes, resulting in complaints to police from residents and local businesses, and sex trafficking of both adults and children.  Among numerous examples is a case in July, 2016, when the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office arrested eleven people in an undercover operation in which calls were placed to people suspected of being involved in prostitution.  This operation netted several prostituted persons, a pimp, and numerous people accused of providing transportation for the purpose of prostitution.  The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has released the names, ages, and charges for each of the accused people. In March 2020, a married couple was arrested in Augusta and indicted on charges including Sex Trafficking Conspiracy; Obstruction of a Child Sex Trafficking Investigation; Sex Trafficking of a Child; Coercion and Enticement of a Child to Engage in Sexual Activity; Production of Child Pornography; and Possession of Child Pornography. An FBI investigation in another state had led agents to the couple as a source of child pornography, resulting in the discovery of child pornography on electronic devices in their home and eventually to charges related to their sexual abuse of children for the production of commercial sexual abuse materials (CSAM or “child pornography” in may criminal codes).

Among the responses to these crimes and problems are initiatives intended to reduce the ultimate source of financial incentives driving all prostitution and sex trafficking – consumer-level demand.  Reverse sting operations has been conducted in the city.  For example, in April 2014, an undercover sting targeting child prostitution netted the arrest of three men, who were charged with criminal attempted child molestation.  All three were booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center.  The sting was a joint operation conducted by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

Sex buyers seeking to abuse children have also been arrested and their identities publicized in Augusta. In February, 2021 a man was charged in a federal indictment alleging he transported a minor across state lines to engage in prostitution.  The man was accused of knowingly picking up a minor in July, 2019, and taking the minor across state lines to engage in prostitution. The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator Tara M. Lyons.  A federal grand jury a indicted the man -at the time employed as a teacher – on federal charges of sex trafficking of a minor; coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity; travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct; and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. The sex trafficking charge carries a minimum penalty upon conviction of 15 years in prison, and a maximum penalty of life in prison, and there is no parole in the federal system.  The indictment alleged that the man “recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, maintained, patronized, and solicited, by any means, in and affecting interstate commerce, Minor Victim 1, knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that Minor Victim 1 had not attained the age of 18 years and that Minor Victim 1 would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.”

 

 

Key Partners

  • Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office – Southern District of Georgia

Key Sources

Reverse Stings and Shaming:

Arrest and Shaming of Sex Buyer:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Georgia
Type City
Population 197194
Location
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