By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Georgia officials have launched a new hotline for alerting authorities to instances of human and sex trafficking as part of Gov. Brian Kemp’s crackdown on trafficking cases in the state.
Suspicions or information on human trafficking in Georgia can be reported to law enforcement agents, advocates and first responders by calling 1-866-ENDHTGA.
The hotline also comes with a new website at https://endhtga.org/.
The hotline’s launch figures among work to reduce human and sex trafficking in Georgia that has been spearheaded by Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp, whom the governor tapped to lead the trafficking-focused GRACE Commission.
“By using this hotline to report suspicious activity, all Georgians can play a role in advocating for those who are at risk and those who are exploited,” Marty Kemp said Wednesday. “All Georgians can help save lives.”
The state Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is funding the hotline via federal grants.
The hotline was announced during a roundtable meeting Wednesday with the Kemps, state and federal law enforcement officials and trafficking victim advocates.
They discussed new Georgia laws aimed at curbing trafficking, efforts by police to rescue victims and federal funding meant to boost services like recovery housing.
Georgia saw more than 400 human trafficking cases in 2019, marking an increase from the prior year, according to the most recent federal data.
“It’s recent and it’s continuing,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, who attended the roundtable. “I would like to be out of this business where there’s no more cases and there’s no more victims, but we all know that’s not happening.”
State officials have handed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation more funding this year to set up a task force for investigating human trafficking cases. That funding, on top of a sharper focus on trafficking prosecution brought by the governor, has already yielded dividends.
Last month, the agency worked with the U.S. Marshals Service, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s office and local law enforcement to rescue nearly 40 missing children in Georgia, many of whom were considered at high risk for trafficking.
“You’re not going to sell a human being in this state,” said GBI Director Vic Reynolds. “If you do, we’ll find you, arrest you and prosecute you.”