GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Three men are in jail and a 14-year-old is back home after police say they arrested human traffickers at a Gwinnett County Walmart.
Police say the men trafficked the teen for nearly two weeks.
Not everyone can spot a human trafficking victim out in public.
Lawrenceville police say one of their officers did just that when he rescued the 14-year-old from three men accused of trafficking her.
“They don’t cry out for help,” said Camila Zolfaghari, executive director at Street Grace, which helps victims of human trafficking in the metro. “It’s a great sign that this officer clearly had been trained to look for signs, look for signs of trafficking.”
Zolfaghari said it’s common for traffickers to manipulate their victims.
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“Usually, they try to protect their trafficker because their traffickers told them, ‘Hey, if you tell them what’s going on, you’re going to get in trouble,’” Zolfaghari said.
On Wednesday night, Lawrenceville police responded to a call at the Walmart on Collins Hill Road about a child in distress.
Police said the officers figured out that the 14-year-old is a victim and was reported as a missing person out of Cobb County.
Investigators arrested three men and say they forced the girl into prostitution for 13 days inside of an apartment on Maddox Street.
“The more arrests we have, they are not a sign we have more trafficking, they’re a sign we’re learning to identify it,” Zolfaghari said.
Jennifer Swain runs Youth Spark in Atlanta and helps trafficking survivors.
She said public awareness about trafficking can put police in places to rescue victims.
“If you have a feeling that this is a young person, a child in need, go ahead and make that phone call, because our law enforcement in Georgia are trained to ask the right questions,” Swain said.
Police say the girl has been returned to cobb county where she can get physical and emotional help.
The three men remain in jail with no bond.
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