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DeKalb County is located in Central Georgia and has a population of approximately 755,000 residents. It contains 10% of the city of Atlanta within its boundaries, as well as the communities of Decatur, Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Lithonia, and Stone Mountain. Numerous cases of prostitution and the sex trafficking (of both adults and minors) have been well-documented in the county for decades. For example, in February, 2015, DeKalb County police arrested three people after officers got a tip that two girls were being held and forced into prostitution. Officers responded to the apartment in Stone Mountain, and a SWAT team was called in after a man inside the apartment pointed a gun at an officer. Police forced their way into the apartment after a standoff that lasted several hours. They rescued a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl. The girls were taken into protective custody, and police are trying to determine how long they had been held and force to perform sex acts. Two men and a woman inside the apartment were arrested. Multiple separate cases of prostitution-related rapes and homicides have also occurred within the county, including the killing of sex buyers during prostitution transactions. For example, in 2022, a pimp operating in DeKalb County was sentenced to life for a murder that occurred in 2019. She was convicted by jury trial in the murder case for killing a man in a hotel room following an argument over money. Jurors returned guilty verdicts on charges of Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault, and weapons offenses in connection with the death of a man who had been shot in the upper abdomen. The pimp and another woman, whom she was prostituting, visited the victim in his room, left the two alone, and upon her return became angered that the young woman had changed her mind about engaging in drugs and paid sexual activity. She demanded the sex buyer “pay for their time” and when he refused, the woman repeatedly struck the victim in the head with a gun, then shot him and left. Surveillance video showed the two women fleeing the scene by car. A fugitive squad located the defendant at a nearby motel two weeks after the crime. A housekeeper at the hotel on Executive Drive in Brookhaven had discovered victim’s body on the floor of a hotel room. At least two other prostitution related murders have occurred in the county since the year 2000.
In addition to city-level efforts to curtail demand, the DeKalb County Police Department has staged periodic reverse stings from undisclosed locations within the county. In 1988, for example, Cobb County law enforcement officers and DeKalb police partnered with Atlanta’s Metro Drug and Vice department to arrest 25 male customers as well as three women involved in a phone escort service in a 5-night reverse sting/sting operation. In early 2015, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office reported that DCPD officers had again targeted demand, arresting three johns as part of the ninth annual National Day of Johns Arrests. The operation was conducted with the support of the Georgia Attorney General’s Office. Although it was noted that the investigations were launched between January 25, 2015 and February 1, 2015, the logistical details of the DCPD operation– including the identities of the men arrested– were not disclosed to the pubic. Similarly, in February 2016, DCPD officers arrested three male sex buyers as part of Cook County Sheriff’s Office-led National Johns Suppression Initiative, which ran from January 17, 2016 to February 7, 2016. The logistical details of the operation were again not reported to the press.
In February, 2019, a five-day undercover operation based in Brookhaven was conducted that spanned the course of Super Bowl weekend, held in Atlanta. Men contacted decoys online, believing they were 14-year-old children, and either engaged in sexually explicit conversations with them and/or distributed obscene photographs to them. Many traveled to Brookhaven with the intent of meeting a child for sex, and were arrested by undercover agents after arriving at the designated meeting location. A DeKalb County Grand Jury indicted 24 people for allegedly soliciting minors for sex in connection with the multi-jurisdictional operation titled, “Operation Interception.” Each of the defendants, ranging in age from 20 to 55 at the time of the crime, was charged with at least one count of utilizing an electronic device to seduce, solicit, or entice a child, in separate indictments returned by Grand Jurors. Other charges, including human trafficking, criminal attempt to commit aggravated child molestation, and obscene internet contact with a child, varied per defendant. The DeKalb County DA’s office released the identities of all the arrested men.
In August, 2021, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced that the office’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit indicted four individuals on human trafficking charges. A DeKalb County Grand Jury returned the indictment on August 24th, 2021. The identities of the four arrested and indicted persons were included in press releases. One of the four was charged with knowingly soliciting a person under the age of 18 years for the purpose of sexual servitude.
Some sex buyers are arrested as the result of enforcement actions or investigations of other crimes, rather than from reverse stings proactively seeking sex buyers. For example, in November, 2018, a man reported to police that a woman he paid to have sex with him never showed, and he wished to report her for larceny. According to police records, the man paid the woman $40 through PayPal for sex. She never showed up so he wanted his bank to refund the money. When they refused, he called police. The man showed authorities the messages exchanged with the woman, showing that he gave her $40 for gas and would give her another $50 for prostitution when she arrived. The woman eventually agreed to refund his money but the customer was still trying to convince her to come over for the sex. The suspect told police he didn’t believe he should be arrested because he never had sex with the woman. The man was arrested and charged with solicitation of a sexual act.”
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in February, 2022, a DeKalb County deputy was fired following his arrest on various charges, including sex trafficking, rape and molestation. The Stone Mountain resident was arrested and booked into the DeKalb jail, where he was held without bond. DeKalb police also charged the man with first-degree cruelty to children, enticing a child for indecent purposes and aggravated sexual battery. All of the charges were felonies. The DeKalb County Sheriff announced that the man’s employment has been terminated after working for the sheriff’s office for three years and 10 months. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, said that the man had served as a jailer until November, when he was promoted to deputy prior to the allegations arising had his prompt termination.
- DeKalb County Police Department
- Cobb County Sheriff’s Office
- Atlanta Police Department
- Georgia Attorney General’s Office
- “25 Male Customers, 3 Women Held in Escort Service Sting,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 16 1988.
- “570 Sex Buyers Arrested in National Super Bowl Sting Operation,” Press Release, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, February 2 2015.
- “Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Sting Nets over 500 Sex Buyers, 30 Pimps,” Press Release, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, February 9 2016.
Web-Based Reverse Stings; Disclosure of Identities:
- https://www.11alive.com/super-bowl-child-sex-sting-arrests (2019)
- https://valdostatoday.com/four-indicted-on-human-trafficking-charges-in-dekalb-county/ (2021)
Sex Buyer Arrest:
Sex Buyer Arrest, Loss of Employment:
- https://www.ajc.com/dekalb-deputy-fired-after-arrest-for-alleged-sex-trafficking-rape/ (2022)
- https://www.wjcl.com/derrick-gardner-sex-trafficking-georgia/ (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Hundreds of Hidden Prostitutes Found in Metro Atlanta,” Gadsden Times Daily, September 20 1999.
- “DeKalb Urged to Fight Child Prostitution,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 17 2003.
- “Pimp who Targeted Runaway Teen Gets 60 Years,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 30 2007.
- “City’s Shame Remains Despite Crackdowns, Atlanta Is Still a Hub in Selling Children for Sex,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 2 2010.
- “DeKalb Police Say Men Forced Teens into Prostitution,” Georgia Newsday, October 13 2011.
- “Teen Imprisoned and Forced into Prostitution Escapes, Helps Free 2nd Teen,” Atlanta Examiner, October 13 2011.
- https://www.justice.gov/archive/usao/gan/press/2011/08-30-11.html (2011)
- “DeKalb County Man Sentenced to 60 Years for Pimping Minors,” CBS/WGCL-TV 46, January 27 2012.
- “2 Indicted in Sex Trafficking of Underage Girls in DeKalb County,” Atlanta Examiner, April 27 2012.
- “2 Arrested for Allegedly Raping, Trafficking Runaways for Sex in DeKalb County,” Atlanta Examiner, February 4 2013.
- “Sex Trafficking Victims Rescued, 2 Arrested,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 4 2013.
- “DeKalb Man Convicted for Sex Trafficking Teens,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 19 2013.
- “DeKalb; DeKalb Man Convicted for Sex Trafficking Teens,” Atlanta Examiner, March 21 2013.
- “Dunwoody Police Bust Locals for Sex Trafficking,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 6 2014.
- “Pair Accused of Running Brothel; Man Convicted Trafficking Homeless Teen for Sex,” Atlanta Examiner, June 7 2014.
- “Human Trafficking Suspect in Coweta Jail,” Newnan Times-Herald, November 21 2014.
- “Juvenile Located, Woman Rescued in Dunwoody Prostitution Sting,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 1 2015.
- “Police: Brookhaven Man Arrested on Human Trafficking Charge,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 6 2015.
- “Disappearance Of Georgia Sex Trafficking Victim Amiyah Roach Not Being Taken Seriously, Family Says,” Atlanta Daily World, July 22 2015.
- https://www.11alive.com/dozens-arrested-in-georgia-as-part-of-fbi-sex-trafficking-sting (2016)
- http://thechampionnewspaper.com/reality-star-arrested-in-connection-to-sex-trafficking/ (2019)
- https://www.11alive.com/love-hip-hops-sas-1-other-arrested-for-alleged-attempt-to-pimp-underaged-girls (2019)
- https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/group-home-fighting-more-housing-human-trafficking-survivors (2022)
- https://streetz945atl.com/dekalb-spa-shut-down-person-arrested-after-reports-of-human-trafficking-prostitution/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “DeKalb Woman, Escort Firm Owner, Guilty of Pimping; Could Get Five Years and $5,000 Fine,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 4 1987.
- “Residents Fear Truck Stop Would Fuel Crime; Bouldercrest Area Will Take Case to Commission,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 9 1994.
- “Police Nab 14 in Hotel Sweep; Cops Respond to Neighbors’ Complaints,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 30 1994.
- “Residents to Motel: Help Us Fight Crime,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 27 1994.
- “Fourth Brothel Raided, Police Say,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 2 1999.
- https://patch.com/georgia/stonemountain/arrests-made-in-prostitution-sting-at-lithonia-motel (2013)
- https://www.wsbtv.com/woman-gets-3-years-for-running-1-of-largest-prostitution-rings-ever-discovered-in-dekalb (2018)
- https://www.bizjournals.com/feds-say-georgia-woman-helped-run-3-state.prostitution (2018)
- https://www.ajc.com/news/woman-pleads-guilty-operating-large-dekalb-prostitution-ring/ (2018)
- https://patch.com/georgia/decatur/5-indicted-dekalb-prostitution-case (2018)
- https://news.yahoo.com/powerless-frustrated-dekalb-county-neighbors (2022)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “2 Arrests in Sex-for-Hire Murders,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 27 2002.
- “DeKalb County Pimp Sentenced to Life for Murder,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 14 2011.
- https://www.ajc.com/dekalb-deputy-fired-after-arrest-for-alleged-sex-trafficking-rape/ (2022)
- https://ocgnews.com/female-pimp-shauntae-taylor-convicted-in-dekalb-county-murder-case/ (2022)
- https://patch.com/georgia/decatur/dekalb-county-pimp-found-guilty-hotel-murder-da (2022)