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Gwinnett County is an area in northern Georgia with a population of roughly 800,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems throughout the county. For example, in April 2014 a Gwinnett County woman was charged with running a brothel from her apartment and forcing women to work as “sex slaves.” She used online ads to lure customers to her Norcross-area apartment where five women were forced to work seven days a week in prostitution. An undercover operation conducted in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security led police to the five victims. The trafficker was charged with five felony counts of sex trafficking, five counts of pimping, and charges related to running a prostitution business.
Among the tactics used to combat such problems are those targeting consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which drives both prostitution and child sex trafficking. Gwinnett law enforcement agencies routinely conduct street-level and web-based reverse stings using undercover officers in areas known for prostitution. The names of those arrested and details of the operation are released to the public. Georgia law allows for forfeiture of a vehicle, when a person is guilty of the crime of soliciting an act of prostitution for themselves or on behalf of another person.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred multiple times within the county. For example, in June, 2012, a man who served as a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department resigned in lieu of termination after being charged with soliciting a prostituted person in Barrow County. The man was arrested on a pandering charge in May by the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office. He had responded to an ad placed by an undercover Barrow County investigator who was posing as a prostituted woman. He then arrived at a motel where he pursued his intent to buy “a prostitution-related service.” The man did not tell the Barrow deputies that he was a police officer, nor did he report the arrest to his supervisor. In February, 2017, the Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney was arrested on charges connected with a prostitution bust in Dunwoody the prior month resigned, according to the Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office.
Not all arrests of sex buyers are from sting operations using police decoys. Some are the result of investigations of offenses against real victims, and have resulted in the loss of employment for sex buyers. In January, 2022, a Norcross police officer was arrested and fired after department officials said he broke his oath and solicited sex from a prostituted woman while in uniform. The Norcross Police Department said they were tipped off by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office after they obtained information that a possible police officer was “pandering for sex with a prostitute” in Norcross. Investigators with the two agencies investigated and obtained evidence of the officer’s sex buying misconduct, along with information revealing he was searching names on a state computer database with “no legal justification to query.” NPD terminated the officer’s employment on Jan. 7, 2021, and prosecutors charged the officer with two counts of GCIC violations, two counts of breaking an oath of office, and two counts of pandering for sex.
- Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department
- Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office
- Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force
- Atlanta Police Department
- Marietta Police Department
Reverse Stings, Shaming, Vehicle Forfeiture:
- “Gwinnett Police Continue Sting at ‘Massage Parlor'”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 1 1990.
- “The ‘Lisa’ Sting Turns Out to Be Reverse Crimewatch”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 6 1990.
- “Prostitution Report Leads to Arrests; Two Women, 11 Men Charged After Neighbors Complain to Police About Norcross Apartment”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 25 2000.
- “Sting Nets 20 Arrests; Prostitution, Drugs Targeted”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 27 2004.
- “Prostitution Crackdown in Gwinnett Village; Police Clean Up More than Litter”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 7 2007.
- “Ad Leads to Prostitution Arrest”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 5 2008.
- “Area Coach Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Athens Banner-Herald, February 23 2011.
Loss of Employment, Shaming:
- https://www.ajc.com/news/local/gwinnett-police-spokesman-charged-with-soliciting-prostitute (2012)
- https://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/local/gwinnett-attorney-connected-to-prostitution-ring-resigns (2017)
- https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/norcross-officer-fired-arrested-after-pandering-for-sex/ (2022)
- https://www.wsbtv.com/gwinnett-county/norcross-police-officer-fired-accused-pandering-sex-with-prostitute (2022)
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCHSBE782PY (2022)
- https://www.cbs46.com/norcross-police-officer-terminated-charged-with-pandering-for-sex-authorities-say (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “CEO Accused of Sex With Child Prostitute Bonds Out of Jail”, WSB-TV 2, November 18 2010.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Prostitutes Called a Fixture at Truck Stops”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 10 1987.
- “Police Take Pride in Accused Prostitute’s Warning”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 12 1998.
- “Rewrite of Massage Parlor Ordinance Starts”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 4 2003.
- “BIG CITY CRIME: Skewed Statistics; Consultant Finds Tiny District Accounts for Disproportionate Share of Incidents, Suggests Get-Tough Strategies”, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 10 2006.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Reports; Female Escort Robbed,” Gwinnett Daily Post, April 6 2005.
- “Police, Fire Reports; Victim Arrested after Being Robbed by Man Dressed as a Woman,” Gwinnett Daily Post, December 19 2007.
- “Police Report; Man Claims He Was Shot by Alleged Pimp,” Gwinnett Daily Post, December 23 2007.
- “Craigslist Prostitution Ad Turns into Robbery, Assault,” Norcross Patch, November 1 2012.