Georgia tops list for top 10 most wanted sex traffickers - CBS46 News


Georgia tops list for top 10 most wanted sex traffickers

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It isn't a position any state wants to brag about. Four of the top 10 most wanted human traffickers in the U.S. committed their crimes in Georgia.

The men were identified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations division.

"Atlanta has become a hub for human trafficking. We are seeing more and more, we are also a lot more aggressive here as well," Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin said. "A lot of these victims are coerced into the country under false hopes that they are going to be getting legitimate jobs, jobs that they covet, a better life. But, they are exposed to something much different when they get here."

In some of the most horrific cases, one woman will be forced to be with more than 30 men a day.

"They are drugged, beaten and held against their will," Spradlin said. "It sounds cliché, but, it is modern-day slavery."

The men on the list are identified as Eugenio Hernandez-Prieto, Jose Isidro Gutierrez-Marez, Severiano Martinez-Rojas and Saul Romero-Rugerio, all wanted for sex trafficking.

Spradlin said a majority of their cases start with a tip from the community. But, even when they rescue a victim, they have trouble getting information from the victims.

"They are so traumatized," Spradlin said. "A lot of times these individuals don't even want to admit they are victims. They have been mistreated for so long, they don't exactly believe they are victims."

The founder of an organization called 4Sarah said she runs into the same problem.

"It is such a struggle sometimes," Kasey McClure said. "It is a 50/50 shot. But, it is worth trying that 50 percent. They are slaves to this man or woman…who is their pimp."

McClure is a former stripper who changed her life through faith and religion. Now, she spends her days tracking down women to help them escape a lifestyle of drugs, sex and violence.

"There are thousands of these girls that aren't rescued. That don't have the right people in their life to help them," McClure said.

Another area McClure said she is seeing younger and younger women selling themselves is online. Now, walking the streets like a "traditional" prostitute is a thing of the past.

"Now, they don't have to walk the streets. The pimps can put them online and [in] a matter of seconds they can be prostituted and get pimps money," McClure said.

Law enforcement said human trafficking is such an underreported crime that it makes their job even harder. With Atlanta in the center of major interstates, and one of the busiest airports in the world, it will take more eyes in the community, more work by law enforcement and women like McClure to find women and men who can be rescued.

ICE said in 2014, they identified more than 440 victims of human trafficking and arrested 1,770 perpetrators of this crime. In Georgia and the Carolinas they rescued 36 women. In 2014, they also investigated more than a 1,000 cases.

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