The issue of human sex trafficking is now a hot button issue in the CSRA.
Just last week, Richmond County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested and charged a man for sex trafficking after complaints about drug activity and prostitution.
Officers rescued 4 girls from that alleged attack at a motel on Boy Scout Road.
In the next few weeks, hundreds of local deputies will be trained to combat sex trafficking in the CSRA.
"These are people's daughter and sisters. I was one of the deputies who went through the training. Those who had daughters and nieces – their eyes were wide open," said Lieutenant Lewis Blanchard, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
This month, a new Georgia law went into effect that requires bars, airports, and hospitals to post notices about sexual exploitation. Businesses that don't comply could face a $5,000 fine. Investigators say most sex trafficking victims are female, runaways and on average – just 12-years-old.
"I was the one riding when we were chasing a shoplifting suspect, we found a 16-year-old who said, 'I promise, I'm not held against my will'," said Lt. Blanchard.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agents say the victims are lured through the internet, false modeling, and even being sold by family members. With a major interstate and many hotels, the I-20 corridor aat Washington Road is one of the hot spots for sex trafficking.
"Right now, our goal is to educate all of our officers than set up stings," said Lt. Blanchard.
Investigators say Augusta is also a prime spot because of its population, being on a state border, and hosting a large-scale sports event ever year.
There's also a local non-profit group called "I'm Aware" that helps victims of sex trafficking.
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