Several Ga. agencies working to end human trafficking

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Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:20 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Many call human trafficking modern-day slavery. It’s something several agencies across Georgia are working to end.

It’s something that is happening across the globe and it could even happen right in your hometown. It goes on at gas stations, motels and even homeless shelters.

Mary Martinez is the executive director of the Lily Pad.
Mary Martinez is the executive director of the Lily Pad. (WALB)

“These are pimps, they are branding these girls to say, ‘hey, this girl belongs to me or this young man belongs to me.’ They’re property, not people,” said Mary Martinez, executive director of The Lilly Pad.

Officials said it doesn’t matter how old you are, pimps will lure young people at any time, day or night.

They tend to target those who need help and assistance because they assume you need them.

Martinez talked about some of the things you can detect when you’re out.

“Some things people can look for are younger girls or younger boys with a significantly older partner or someone that may have been involved in school and now they’re not. They may have been involved in extracurricular activities and now, they’re not. And now, they’re hanging out with a different crowd. They may have tattoos or dress inappropriately for their age or presented at a local clinic or at a doctor’s office with multiple sexually transmitted infections,” said Martinez.

Southern Regional Technical College Commercial Truck driving student Earl Cotton said the...
Southern Regional Technical College Commercial Truck driving student Earl Cotton said the course is more than just driving a truck. You have to be aware of your surroundings.(WALB)

Southern Regional Technical College Commercial Truck driving students are required to learn how to sense these kinds of acts when they’re on the road. Earl Cotton, a student, spoke on why it’s important for them to learn about human trafficking.

“In this CDL course, it’s more than just driving a truck. It’s suspicious activities. So pay attention to details on where you’re at and your surroundings and notify authorities to help someone,” said Cotton.

Kenneth Gordan is the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office chief investigator.
Kenneth Gordan is the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office chief investigator. (WALB)

The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office said they don’t come across this issue that often but they noticed a pattern with some of the victims of this crime.

“In the state of Georgia alone, a sum of 200 or 400 girls are trafficked and each month, 20% of the youth from homeless shelters has (a chance of being) trafficked,” said Chief investigator Kenneth Gordan.

To report suspected human trafficking, you can call the Statewide 24-Hour Human Trafficking Hotline at (866) 363-4842.

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