Fulton County, GA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension
Fulton County is located in North-Central Georgia.  Its county seat and largest city is Atlanta, and other substantial cities within Fulton County include College Park, Johns Creek, and Alpharetta.
Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented and present longstanding problems throughout the cities and unincorporated areas of Fulton County. For example, the County was one of the sites of the 2009 three-day national enforcement action as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. This operation, known as Operation Cross Country III, included enforcement operations in 29 cities across the country, including College Park.  In 2016 Alpharetta police announced that an undercover prostitution sting led them to a teenager being held against her will in a human trafficking operation. Police had responded to an ad on Backpage.com and an undercover detective met a woman at a hotel off Mansell Road.  In 2017, a College Park man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of sex trafficking and pimping of a 14-year-old girl, on charges including trafficking for sexual servitude, pimping, pandering, child molestation, statutory rape, simple battery and sexual exploitation of a minor.  In 2017 three Alpharetta men and a resident from Roswell were charged with pandering and violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, in connection to a now-defunct prostitution ring operating in DeKalb County.
Efforts to curtail commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking in the county have included those focusing on combating demand for commercial sex. For example, Atlanta was one of the “early adopters” of tactics used to combat demand for commercial sex.  The city has been a pioneer in public education and awareness campaigns focused on demand for trafficked sex and prostitution.  Reverse stings and shaming efforts are known to have occurred periodically since 1976, if not before.  Recent examples include a web-based operation conducted in 2018 that was designed to apprehend seeking to buy sex with children in the Atlanta region. Police arrested nearly two dozen people. Officers pretended to be teenagers online in order to lure the alleged predators from all over metro Atlanta to meet up and pay for sex. Detectives said some of the men brought money with them when they pulled up to the covert house expecting to have rendezvous with a 14-year-old boy or girl. The joint “Operation Spring Cleaning” led by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Gwinnett County Police Department led to 23 arrests over five days. The identities of the men were included in press releases.  Atlanta’s most well-known effort to combat demand is its “Dear John” campaign from the mid-2000s, which was an effort to educate the public about the demand for sex purchased from prostituted and trafficked women and girls, and to deter men from buying sex.
Other communities within the county have also addressed consumer-level demand. For example, in early 2015, the Johns Creek Police Department launched an anti-prostitution investigation after receiving reports that a local resident was pimping out her stepdaughter online. JCPD officers, with the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and officers with the Alpharetta and Roswell Police Departments, placed decoy advertisements on a website known for prostitution activity and arranged to meet the individuals who responded at a Johns Creek hotel. Fifteen individuals were arrested as a result; although the identities of and charges levied against the offenders were not individually reported, police did report “four people were charged with prostitution, seven were charged with pimping, three were charged with misdemeanor pandering, and one was charged with felony pandering for soliciting a minor for sex.” At least one john was arrested during the investigation, after arranging to meet what he thought was an underage girl for commercial sex at the hotel. That john’s name and mug shot were publicized in local media outlets.  In March 2017, an undercover operation resulted in 16 people arrested after investigators raided a hotel in College Park.   The operation team included two female undercover officers serving as decoys, and arrested those attempting to purchase sex.

In 2017 a local ordinance was passed in Fulton County that amended prior ordinances for prostitution: in areas that are known to authorities for frequent prostitution arrests, police will be given additional latitude to investigate a loitering suspect who is engaging in such suspicious activities as repeatedly circling the block in a car, stopping their motor vehicle on a Fulton road to beckon to someone on the street or repeatedly stopping, or attempting to stop, drivers by hailing them down. Police will also have additional powers to investigate those who remain in their cars in a parking lot or vacant area for an extended period of time.

Key Partners

  • Fulton CountySheriff’s Office
  • Fulton County District Attorney’s Office
    • Sex Trafficking Division
  • College Park Police Department
  • Alpharetta Police Department
  • Johns Creek Police Department
  • Roswell Police Department
  • Atlanta Police Department
  • Georgia Bureau of Investigation
  • Georgia Attorney General’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State Georgia
Type County
Population 1041000
Location
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