An Atlanta man and former hotel clerk is accused of knowingly selling rooms to be used for trafficking a 16-year-old girl and taking kickback payments from the victim’s alleged primary trafficker, state officials said Tuesday.
Dionte Johnson, 30, was arrested last month and indicted Monday on two counts of trafficking a person for sexual servitude, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said. Johnson was previously employed as a clerk at the Economy Hotel near the junction of Fulton Industrial Boulevard and I-20.
Johnson is the latest suspect to be indicted in a trafficking investigation that began with a traffic stop in Cherokee County, Carr said. Five other men have already been indicted as part of a wider investigation into the trafficking of one teenage girl.
“Working with our partners at the GBI, we are using all resources at our disposal to identify and hold accountable every person who engaged in the trafficking of this underage victim,” Carr said in a statement.
On Dec. 18, 2021, Mark Thomas was stopped while driving in Cherokee with a 16-year-old girl in the passenger seat, according to a news release. Few details about the traffic stop were provided, but the girl ultimately revealed to law enforcement officers that Thomas had been trafficking her for three months, beginning in September 2021 when she was 15, Carr said.
Investigators with the GBI’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit determined that Thomas had previously driven the girl to Woodstock to be sold for sex to two men, Jose Medina Dominguez and Cesar Juarez Oaxaca, according to Carr. Thomas, Dominguez and Oaxaca were all arrested and indicted on human trafficking charges.
The investigation also revealed that Thomas had sold the victim for sex along Fulton Industrial Boulevard and at hotels in the area, including the Economy Hotel where Johnson worked, Carr said. Thomas is accused of selling the girl to another man, Ruben Tolentino, and sharing some of the money with another defendant, Cedric Johnson, according to Carr.
Thomas was again indicted on human trafficking charges, this time alongside Tolentino and Cedric Johnson, Carr said. Those indictments were handed down in October, but the hotel clerk, Dionte Johnson, was not arrested until Valentine’s Day when he was booked into the Fulton jail.
Dionte Johnson remains in jail after his bond was denied at a first appearance hearing, online court records show.
Thomas is also booked in the Fulton jail, where he faces a laundry list of charges from his original arrest and a new charge of possessing child pornography, according to online records. His earlier charges include six counts of trafficking a person for sexual servitude, two counts of battery and one count each of aggravated assault, first-degree cruelty to children, child molestation and aggravated child molestation.
“Selling minors for sex will not be tolerated,” GBI Director Mike Register said. “Our HEAT Unit is dedicated to investigating sex and labor trafficking around the state. We are thankful to partner with the Attorney General’s Office as they prosecute these heinous crimes and bring justice to vulnerable victims.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com