To eliminate what they called the “scourge of modern-day slavery,” Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds and other state leaders announced the recent creation of a human trafficking investigation unit out of the GBI’s Atlanta headquarters.
Reynolds said the GBI received funding from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for two special agents for its Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit. The unit, which has four special agents and two agents in charge, will focus on commercial sex trafficking, labor trafficking and “rescuing trafficking victims,” Reynolds said.
The trafficking unit will work with personnel from the financial investigative unit. The ultimate goal, Reynolds said, for this unit is to become a multi-agency task force with local, state and federal partnerships.
“It’s very similar to what we’re doing now and have been doing for the last 17 or 18 months with our gang task force,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds conveyed a message to potential traffickers during a press conference Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Capitol.
“I want you to know without any equivocation that the GBI is coming after you. And we intend on pursuing these cases in every corner of the state of Georgia,” Reynolds said. “We intend on investigating you. We intend on arresting you if appropriate, and we intend on insisting that you be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Executive Director Jay Neal said the council’s analysts have been working to identify hotspots and other indicators to assist with the unit’s mission.
“Human trafficking is a crime against our communities that targets the most vulnerable among us, and this project was created to protect Georgians from these traffickers who profit in the billions of dollars by exploiting human beings,” Neal said.
Gov. Brian Kemp said he believes Reynolds will have “the resources that he needs to crack down on this criminal enterprise and ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.”
“We will not rest until we have ended that evil industry in our state,” Kemp said.