Chatham County, GA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Chatham County is located in southeast Georgia, along the Interstate 95 corridor, and includes coastal areas. Chatham County has approximately 295,000 residents. The county seat and largest city is Savannah. Prostitution and sex trafficking are known to occur in the community and other areas within the county. Police and community members have identified that indoor prostitution and sex trafficking often occur in hotels situated along the Interstate 95 corridor and advertised on websites such as An officer from the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Tactical Reaction and Prevention Unit (one of the key partners for reverse stings that have been conducted in the city) said they have seen many prostituted women in the area robbed and assaulted by sex buyers. According to the SCMPD, about 10 percent of all street robberies in the department’s jurisdiction involved a customer robbing a prostituted woman. In one precinct, half of all robberies involved prostitutes being mugged at hotels and motels.

Federal law enforcement, working in partnership with city and county officials in the greater Savannah metropolitan area, have also linked local commercial sex activity to regional and international sex trafficking circuits using Interstate 95 and interstate prostitution and sex trafficking rings based in Savannah. For example, in January 2013, a federal indictment charged 12 defendants for their roles in an alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring based in Georgia. Its operations stretched to Florida and the Carolinas. The federal charges followed a lengthy investigation called “Operation Dark Night,” which was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition to several searches and arrests, federal authorities rescued 11 women who were allegedly forced into prostitution (trafficked).

Among the problems noted by police, as reported in news outlets, is the rampancy of STDs. At least one prostituted person has been charged with engaging in commercial sex while knowingly being infected with HIV. The SCMPD has “tracked 10 percent of the street robberies reported jurisdiction-wide and half of all robberies in the Southside Precinct to the hold-ups of prostitutes in area hotels and motels.” Prostitution and crimes connected with it present hotel liability issues. The SCMPD has attempted to conduct meetings with hotel owners to educate them and seek cooperation in investigations and enforcement actions. In another case, at least three local firefighters were charged with “cruelty to the infirm and principal to prostitution.” The case involved two mentally challenged men who frequently visited the fire station. The firefighters allegedly provided the visitors with alcohol and watched as one of the men had sex with a woman who was paid to perform sex acts with the disabled man. A serial killer who targeted prostituted women also has operated within the county.

Notably, the SCMPD’s responses to prostitution and sex trafficking in Pooler and the surrounding area include efforts to combat demand. For example, a two-day, web-based reverse sting was conducted in October 2013 that resulted in the arrest of 13 sex buyers. The operation focused on prostitution services advertised on that occurred in hotels and motels along Interstate 95 from the Highway 204 exit in Savannah through exits in Garden City, Port Wentworth, and Pooler. For the operation, SCMPD officers posted a decoy advertisement soliciting sex and arranged to meet the sex buyers who responded in hotels and motels in the four communities. The first day of the operation focused on the midtown area of Savannah. The second was directed toward hotels near Interstate 95 exits in Savannah, Pooler, Garden City, and Port Wentworth. Police press releases and news reports did not state the number of sex buyer arrests that occurred in each of the separate cities. The names and ages of the arrested sex buyers were, however, released to news outlets. In their efforts, the SCMPD was assisted by several other law enforcement agencies, including their own Savannah Area Regional Intelligence Center (SARIC) and Crime Suppression Units from the West Chatham and Southside Precincts; the Pooler, Garden City, and Port Wentworth Police Departments; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Web Stings and Identity Disclosure:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

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 County
Population 295291
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