To spot victims of sex trafficking, it takes the keen eye of an expert — one like Brian Johnston, assistant special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit. “As far as human trafficking goes, we are laser focused on domestic child sex trafficking, labor trafficking and adult prostitutes. Typically we are a request agency. Typically we have to be requested by another office, government office, law enforcement. However, in cases involving child exploitation, and child sex trafficking, we have original jurisdiction — we don’t have to be requested to become involved in these kids of investigation.”
Although the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) can originate cases, Johnston stressed the importance of empowering other agencies to do the same. The GBI’s strategy of providing training on identifying victims, referring victims to services, and understanding Georgia law is effective. In addition to their training, Johnston said that instinct and hunches can be a responding officer’s best resource.
And for the everyday person who suspects a child is being exploited, Johnston explained the different routes. “I always say, even though the GBI has original jurisdiction, it’s best to report any criminal activity to local law enforcement first — make the report,” he said. “There are other options after a report is made. You can call GBI — we don’t discourage that, we are a statewide agency — but we have limited scope and resources, so another avenue is to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. But law enforcement should be contacted first.”
Learn more at Law agencies focus sharp eyes to spot victims.