In 2014 the Federal Government released a study on sex trafficking indicating Atlanta as the #1 city in America for this crime. Rolling out magazine spoke with FBI Special Agent Joe Fonseca, MATCH Task Force Coordinator in Atlanta.
Why do you think Atlanta is number one in sex trafficking per a Federal study?
It might prove helpful in discussing sex trafficking matters by differentiating those adults involved in the sex trafficking industry versus juveniles being exploited within the industry. The FBI, working closely with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, aggressively investigates those individuals engaged in the human trafficking of both adults and juveniles being forced to work within the industry. In addition to those efforts, the FBI Atlanta Division has in place a Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force called MATCH that is comprised of various area law enforcement agencies whose mission is to recover juveniles being exploited within the sex trafficking industry and arresting those exploiting them.
While looking at factors that might account for Atlanta’s high rank regarding sex trafficking, it is important to understand that Atlanta is home to the world’s busiest airport and is geographically located regionally with numerous major interstates associated with our city. Atlanta also has a robust convention industry that attracts many business travelers here throughout the year. In addition, it is important to understand that Atlanta’s law enforcement community and its non-governmental partners have, collectively, recognized this as a problem and have implemented one of the largest child exploitation task forces in the country with dedicated agents and detectives who aggressively seek to recover children and prosecute their exploiters. Those aggressive law enforcement efforts put the spotlight squarely on this issue and could have the effect of giving the impression that this activity is more prevalent in Atlanta over another city that might not be addressing the issue. Every city has prostitution in some frequency. The key is to attack the problem with as many resources as are available.