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Madison is a city with approximately 4,900 residents, in Morgan County, Georgia, near Covington. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and in other areas of the county. This activity, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. A wide range of additional crimes associated with the local sex trade has also been documented, including child sex trafficking. For example, in June 2016, the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force led a joint sting with five other law enforcement agencies targeting web-based commercial solicitation of minors.
According to media reports, the intent of the investigation– dubbed “Operation Southern Hospitality,” was “to arrest those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor, and stop the recruitment of victims for child sex trafficking”. The operation specifically targeted the demand side of child sex trafficking. Six individuals were arrested as a result of the sting; those intercepted were ultimately charged with “Criminal Attempt to Commit Child Molestation,” though “one of those arrested was also identified and charged with adult prostitution-related charges.” The identities of those arrested were later released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
In April 2015, seven men in Georgia faced charges of soliciting prostitution or prostitution following an anti-prostitution sting. Madison Police conducted the undercover operation in response to complaints about prostitution occurring in some Madison motels. In each case, the offender used social media to communicate and arrange the exchange of sexual acts for money, with an undercover officer. Subjects arranged to meet the undercover officer in a predetermined motel, where further arrangements were made between the suspects and the undercover officer. All suspects were arrested and taken to the Madison County Jail.
- Georgia Internet Crimes against Children Task Force
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit
- Madison Police Department
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- United States Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Georgia
- District Attorney’s Office of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.enewscourier.com/update-eight-arrested-in-anti-prostitution-sting/ (2015)
- “‘Operation Southern Hospitality’ Targets On-line Child Predators and Victims of Child Sex Trafficking,” Coosa Valley News, June 27 2016.
- “Six Nabbed in Child Predator Sting,” Morgan County Citizen, June 29 2016.