Columbia 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

Columbia County is located on the northeastern border of Georgia and has a population of approximately 124,000. The county has had well-documented problems with prostitution and sex trafficking – and their related crimes and health impacts – for decades. For example, in 2016, three women were arrested and faced charges in a prostitution case at a Columbia County spa on S. Belair Road. Two women were charged with trafficking persons for labor or sexual servitude, and one was charged with prostitution. According to a warrant, the third woman consented to perform sexual acts for money. Earlier in that year, police were called to the business after it was robbed and an employee was raped. The business was also under investigation in 2010 when two female employees were charged with masturbation for hire when an undercover investigator paid $60 for the “service.”

In May 2022, a Columbia County man convicted on felony charges related to child sex trafficking was sentenced to life in federal prison with no parole. The offender was ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution, to register as a sex offender, and to be subject to a life term of supervised release if he is freed from confinement. There is no parole in the federal system. He had been convicted on all nine charges he faced, which included Conspiracy to Engage in Sex Trafficking of a Minor; Sex Trafficking of a Child; Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Sexual Activity; four counts of Production of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal laws); Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials; and Obstruction of a Sex-Trafficking Investigation. On Tuesday, May 24, the judge sentenced him to concurrent terms of life in prison on the first three counts; 30-year terms on each count of Production of Child Sexual Abuse Materials; a 20-year term for Child Sexual Abuse Materials; and a 25-year term for Obstruction of a Sex-Trafficking Investigation. The minor victim testified during the trial that the man employed rewards, fear, threats of harm, physical abuse, and intimidation to psychologically manipulate and sexually abuse the victim as young as age 7. His actions steadily progressed from coercing the victim to participate in the production of Child Sexual Abuse Materials to forcing the minor victim to submit to commercial sex trafficking facilitated by online advertising.

To combat the consumer-level demand for commercial sex that drives all sex trafficking, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has conducted both web-based and street-level reverse stings using undercover investigators as prostituted women and male sex buyers since 2007 and 2009, respectively. The reverse stings net about ten arrests each, after which the names, ages, and hometowns of those arrested are reported to the media.

Key Partners

  • Columbia County Sheriff’s Office
State Georgia
Type County
Population 124035
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