GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Gwinnett police said a 21-year-old woman ran a sex trafficking operation that brought underage girls to men in hotels and apartments in metro Atlanta.
Experts Channel 2 Action News spoke with say sex trafficking is not just in seedy areas in the heart of the city. It can happen in suburban areas, too.
Gwinnett County authorities said Shaela Chatman is one of the faces of human sex trafficking in metro Atlanta. The 21-year-old is accused of taking two teenage girls to a Norcross-area apartment complex to meet a man.
Channel 2's Tony Thomas pulled warrants that allege Chatman set up dates for the girls, ages 14 and 15, online, set the prices and times for them to meet men, then drove them "to dates located at hotels, apartments, and houses." She is accused of taking 50 percent of the earnings from the prostitution.
Officers partly credit recent training ahead of the Super Bowl for helping identify and make the bust.
"(Sex trafficking) is an estimated to be a $290 million industry in Georgia alone," Street Grace operations manager Brooke Ruffin said.
Ruffin is helping train police and Super Bowl volunteers on what to look for to help identify and rescue victims who may be trafficked in connection with the big game.
"It's really the influx of people coming into our city. It’s also that disposable income that these people have," Ruffin said.
As for Chatman, she's being held without bond. The two teenagers are now in state custody.
Police said they have brought in other agencies to look at the case as they try and figure out if Chatman is tied to a much bigger operation.
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