16 suspected sex trafficking victims among 20 children rescued in metro Atlanta

The state Attorney General’s Office partnered with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Missing Child Unit, along with several other federal, state and local agencies, to recover the children as part of “Operation Not Forgotten 2021."
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The state Attorney General’s Office partnered with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Missing Child Unit, along with several other federal, state and local agencies, to recover the children as part of “Operation Not Forgotten 2021."

Credit: Shane T. McCoy/US Marshals

Authorities announced Thursday that 20 children in metro Atlanta, 16 of whom are suspected victims of sex trafficking, were recovered during a two-week multi-jurisdictional operation in May.

The state Attorney General’s Office partnered with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Missing Child Unit, along with several other federal, state and local agencies, to recover the children as part of “Operation Not Forgotten 2021,” according to a news release.

The 20 children ranged in age from 6 weeks to 17 years old and were recovered mainly from Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb counties, Katie Byrd, communications director for the Attorney General’s Office, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an email.

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Twenty children in metro Atlanta were recovered, 16 of whom were suspected victims of sex trafficking.

Credit: Shane T. McCoy/US Marshals

Twenty children in metro Atlanta were recovered, 16 of whom were suspected victims of sex trafficking.
caption arrowCaption
Twenty children in metro Atlanta were recovered, 16 of whom were suspected victims of sex trafficking.

Credit: Shane T. McCoy/US Marshals

Credit: Shane T. McCoy/US Marshals

“I strongly believe this model is the most effective example of how we as an agency should be approaching this mission,” U.S. Marshals Missing Child Unit Chief Darby Kirby said in a news release. “Everyone who participated in the (operation) played a vital role in recovering these children.”

Authorities have not said whether any arrests were made in the weekslong operation, which was the third of its kind in Georgia.

Explore15 sex trafficking victims among 39 missing children recovered in Georgia

Thirty-nine children, 15 of whom authorities said were trafficked for sex, were recovered in 2020 during a two-week operation in metro Atlanta and Macon. Those recovered ranged in age from 3 years old to 17 and had been missing from about two weeks to two years, authorities confirmed.

That operation led to the arrest of nine people. This week, the AG’s office indicted Terry Florence in DeKalb County for three counts of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude in connection to the 2020 roundup. Each count carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

“We are working every single day to rescue victims of human trafficking and put their buyers and traffickers behind bars,” Attorney General Chris Carr said in the release. “Our team will continue to track down every lead until there are no more victims of this horrific crime in Georgia and all perpetrators are behind bars.”

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

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