Teen sex trafficking spreading to Coweta
by W. Winston Skinner
Teenage girls are being prostituted in Coweta County.
“Four girls I’ve found at exit 41 so far,” said Tim Taylor, president of operations for the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force. Atlanta has long been known as a center for sex trafficking, and Taylor is reaching out to local leaders to offer training for police officers and citizens.
Exit 41 has “got it already,” Taylor said. He said awareness and understanding can help slow the spread of sex trafficking and offer police officers and other community leaders methods for rescuing girls who are involved.
Taylor said generally “human trafficking starts” when a teen runs away from home. They come to the city, connect with a pimp and soon find themselves on the street.
“They wind up being trafficked for sex,” Taylor said. “It’s a huge, huge business.” He said a prostitute, usually in the 13-17 age span, can earn $3,000 per night – most of it going to the pimp.
“Once they’re inside the circuit, it’s hard for them to get out,” Taylor said. “They’re scared of what the pimp will do to them – or to their friends.” Often they are beaten or refused food if they do not bring in what their pimp thinks is sufficient money.
Taylor said people should be watchful for “teenage girls just hanging out” late at night. The police should be called, he said. A girl who seems to walk back and forth in a close area may well be under surveillance by her pimp.
“She’s not going to walk outside of her pimp’s sight,” Taylor said, adding that it will not look like she is “walking home from a party.”
Stopping teen prostitution is difficult. If police crack down in an area around Atlanta, the girls are whisked away to Florida, California or elsewhere. After awhile, “they come back to Atlanta and Fulton Industrial,” Taylor said.
While sex trafficking is a grimy business – half hidden in shadows, the ultimate boss probably wears a suit. “It could be a guy running a major bank in California,” Taylor said. “His side money comes in from trafficking children.”
Drug trafficking and teen sex trafficking – “it all goes hand in hand,” Taylor said. In terms of the money generated by criminal activity, “drug sales is number one,” he said. “Human trafficking is number two.”
The prostituting of teens is “a dirty topic,” Taylor said. “Nobody wants to talk about it.”
The practice has, he stated, largely been ignored until recently. “The media’s starting to cover it,” Taylor said. “It’s bad business no matter which way you look at it.”
Taylor has already approached the Grantville City Council about the MAHTTF programs. “I want to get with the police department here and do training,” he said at the June 23 meeting.
Mayor Jim Sells asked Taylor to talk with Scott Wilson, the town’s interim police chief. “They need to have an understanding of how to help,” Sells said.
Councilman Leonard Gomez thanked Taylor for attending the meeting to inform the council about “an important issue that’s happening in our cities.”
Gomez is “so hopeful we can do some things about that,” he said. “I look forward to learning more about that myself.”
In addition to working with police, MAHTTF offers seminars to the general public. “I do these seminars for free,” Taylor said. With regard to his ultimate goal regarding the future of teen sex trafficking – “I want these things to end so my non-profit goes out of business,” he said.