‘We’re here for you:’ Marshal describes moments he rescued 17-year-old victim of sex trafficking

Child advocates say bust where nearly 40 children were saved is just the start

ATLANTA — A day after U.S. Marshals announced they saved nearly 40 children from sex trafficking across Georgia, we talked to heroes on the front lines of stopping these criminals.

Channel 2′s Tony Thomas was in Gwinnett County, where he learned more about the bust that spanned at least 27 counties. During the two-week bust, Marshals were able to locate 39 missing or endangered children, many from the metro Atlanta area.

Thomas talked to U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector Josue Rivera, who said the youngest child that was rescued was just three years old and the oldest was 17. James Garcia and two others are now charged in connection with that child’s disappearance.

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“They found him in a motel in Clearwater (Florida) with the 3-year-old child,” Rivera said.

Two other people were arrested after a missing teenager was found hiding in a Rockdale County garage. Rivera said that was the case that stuck out the most to him. Rivera said the girl had been trafficked for sex since she was 12 years old.

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“We had indications she was sexually trafficked,” Rivera said. “She told us she didn’t realize anyone cared enough to look for her. She was thinking we were there to arrest someone else. We told her, ‘We’re here for you.’”

Kirk Waters and Trevontae Shareef were arrested at the scene, two strangers Rivera said the teen didn’t know except as her traffickers.

Nine people in total were arrested during the sweep.

Rivera said that of the children rescued, nine were from Fulton, nine were from DeKalb, eight were from Gwinnett and three children were rescued from both Clayton and Cobb counties.

“Hopefully, one child at a time we can actually make a difference,” Rivera said.

Thomas spoke to sex trafficking survivor Nikki Burrell about what those children may be going through right now. Burrell was first abused as a child and then trafficked at 19. She now helps other survivors through the faith-based program Street Grace.

“I think the first thing is fear,” Burrell said. “A lot of fear, uncertainty.”

Burrell said the first thing the children will need is unconditional love and a lot of help.

The people arrested include:

Moradeyo Amos Bandele – Arrested in Port St Lucie, FL – Warrant for Rape out of Conyers, GA

Trayon Moore – Dekalb County – Sex Trafficking and Probation Violation warrants

James Garcia - Arrested at a Motel in Clearwater, Fl - Warrants out of Whitfield County, GA - Aggravated Child Molestation, Aggravated Sodomy and Incest with a Minor

Faye Smith – Arrested at a motel in Clearwater, Fl – Warrant for Probation Violation

Sally Garcia – Arrested at a motel in Clearwater, Fl – Interference with Child Custody

Zachary Bailey Arrested in Columbus, GA – Human trafficking, Enticing of a Minor for Indecent Purposes, and Enticement of a Minor for Solicitation

Stanson Causey – Arrested in Jasper, GA – Registered Sex Offender arrested for Probation Violation

Kirk Waters – Arrested in Newton County, GA – Felon in Possession of a Firearm

Trevonte Shareef – Arrested in Newton County, GA – Interference with custody and obstruction

Nearly 40 children rescued in Georgia sex-trafficking bust