Lowndes County, GA
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Lowndes County is a county of about 116,000 residents in south central Georgia, on the border with Florida. Its county seat is Valdosta. Prostitution and sex trafficking, including child sex trafficking, have been documented in the county, resulting in complaints from residents. Drugs have also been connected to the local commercial sex market.
Reverse stings and identity disclosure have been used to combat demand in the county. In February 2020, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested 14 people for child sex-related crimes in “Operation: Broken Arrow.” They were all charged with a violation of Georgia’s Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, computer or electronic pornography, and/or trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude. Suspects arrested during the four-day sting believed they were meeting up with a child for sex acts. The Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) had received tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about at least one of the suspects prior to his arrest, and he had already been arrested previously on peeping tom charges. Investigators had over 120 encounters with people on social media or internet platforms during the course of the operation. Some of the arrestees asked the “child” they were talking with online to take a naked or pornographic image of themselves to send. All the men arrested had their identities released to the press. The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office assisted in the operation.
In August 2021, an operation conducted by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office in response to community complaints resulted in the arrest of 17 people on charges including drugs, firearms, pandering, pimping and prostitution. The investigation revealed that drug distributors were supplying narcotics to people offering sex acts for money. At least one victim of sex trafficking was recovered. Eleven sex buyers were arrested and charged with pandering. Their names and arrest photos were released to the press.
- Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office
- Special Operations Division
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)
- Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit
- Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC)
- Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://wgxa.tv/news/local/valdosta-state-university-dean-among-14-busted-in-undercover-child-sex-sting (2020)
- https://www.valdostadailytimes.com/news/local_news/more-arrests-made-in-lowndes-child-sex-sting (2020)
- https://www.valdostadailytimes.com/news/local_news/lowndes-deputies-bust-prostitution-ring (2021)
- https://www.wctv.tv/17-arrested-lowndes-co-trafficking-sweep (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
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