A new state task force has been working since July to crack down on human trafficking in Georgia.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, or HEAT, is focused on investigating crimes involving sex trafficking and labor trafficking as well as rescuing trafficked victims, said GBI Director Vic Reynolds said at a news conference Wednesday.
The task force launched July 1 with four agents including two investigators funded by a grant from the state Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The unit is based in Atlanta and works statewide with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Reynolds said.
The new GBI unit is also working with financial investigators to locate traffickers and shore up cases against arrested traffickers, Reynolds said. The CJCC’s statistical analysis center is also helping to pinpoint trafficking hot spots.
Reynolds put out a warning that the new GBI unit aims to give human traffickers no quarter in Georgia.
“I want you to know without any equivocation that the GBI is coming after you,” Reynolds said. “And we intend on pursuing these cases in every corner of the state of Georgia.”
Curbing human trafficking has been a top priority for Gov. Brian Kemp since taking office last year as well as for First Lady Marty Kemp, who the governor charged with the trafficking-focused GRACE Commission to target traffickers and help victims.
The task force’s creation coincided with passage in the General Assembly of legislation to strip convicted traffickers of their commercial driver’s licenses and to help trafficked victims clean up any criminal record they may have. Kemp signed those bills last month.
“We’ve made it clear … that in no terms are perpetrators of modern-day slavery going to have any place in the state of Georgia,” Kemp said Wednesday.
By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service