AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says human trafficking remains a major problem in Augusta.
Investigator Terry Gore tells News Channel 6 the city’s proximity to South Carolina, as well as its major interstates, provides a perfect opportunity for traffickers.
The office is working closely with the FBI and GBI to prosecute traffickers and rescue victims.
“We’re actually looking at around 40 different children that have been trafficked out of Augusta right now,” said Gore.
In August, the GBI launched HEAT, the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit. Its goal is to crack down on commercial and labor trafficking, and was spearheaded by First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp.
She tells News Channel 6 there’s growing concern about traffickers targeting children online.
“We know with this pandemic, there are more kids at home and on computers,” Kemp said. “It’s about education and awareness. We have to talk about it. We have to make sure people know what signs to look for.”
What are those signs? Authorities say running away, attitude changes and extreme weight loss are things to look out for in people who may have become trafficking victims.
“If you see something, say something,” said Gore.