GREENE COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia sheriff’s office helped rescue a teenage girl and arrest an alleged human trafficker after an attempt to pull a car over was transformed into a nearly 120-mile-per-hour chase.
Greene County Sheriff Donnie Harrison told Channel 2′s Mark Winne it started as a traffic stop over tinted windows and some other issues.
Instead, it ended as a human trafficking case with a 16-year-old victim allegedly sexually exploited across the Atlanta area.
Deputies in Greene County chased the car, driven by Anthony Holmes, into Taliaferro County, according to Harrison.
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Harrison said his deputies recognized red flags associated with human trafficking and called in human trafficking investigators from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
First, they had to chase Holmes, driving in a Cadillac, over county lines at high speeds.
“During the course of the pursuit, [the cars] reached speeds of 119 miles an hour,” Harrison told Channel 2 Action News.
When Holmes took off, the pursuit went from high-speed chase to catching an alleged trafficker and saving a girl who had allegedly been exploited on multiple occasions, according to the GBI.
“We sent several agents over there to assist them with the investigation and they were able to rescue a 16-year-old young lady,” GBI agents told Winne. “Based on the preliminary investigation, we believe that she had been exploited several times in the metro Atlanta area.”
The chase ran between counties but was brought to an end with a PIT maneuver, according to law enforcement officers.
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Holmes maintains that he was not trafficking the teen.
Instead, he said while in jail that someone connected with the alleged victim had asked him to help her get away from someone threatening to kill her. Holmes said he fled from deputies because of unrelated warrants for his arrest from Ohio.
Sheriff Harrison said Holmes faces a long list of charges including:
- Human trafficking
- Fleeing and eluding
- Possession of marijuana with intent to distribute
- Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon
- Possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Various trafficking-related charges
He plans to plead not guilty to all of the charges he’s facing.
SAC Ivy said the girl was from Ohio, and had already been rescued by South Carolina authorities and the FBI, including being identified as a human trafficking victim there.
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Ivy said she allegedly left South Carolina with Holmes.
Sheriff’s Lt. Patrick Paquette said a gun was recovered on the interstate where a deputy had seen it thrown out of the Cadillac’s passenger side during the high-speed chase. The lieutenant said an adult woman was arrested on three charges but had not been charged with human trafficking.
The 16-year-old victim seemed reluctant to cooperate, according to Paquette, which he said was not unusual in these cases.
“After the GBI agents came and interviewed her, she was seeking out help,” Paquette told Channel 2 Action News.
According to the GBI, children are trafficked on the highway in Georgia every day.
“It’s a $32 billion industry,” Ivy said. “It’s the second largest criminal activity in the United States. You have people including children that are being sold for labor and sex...on a continuous basis.”
Ivy said the young woman rescued by GBI and sheriff’s deputies is seeking help from victim services and will ultimately be returned home to Ohio.
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