In Atlanta, sex trafficking is estimated to be a $238 million a year industry. Despite all that money, the buyers funding these crimes are rarely punished.
An analysis of 10 years of Georgia arrest and conviction data shows that, statewide, only 25 percent of people charged with buying sex receive punishment.
SELLING GIRLS | Sex traffickers are targeting American children
Law enforcement and anti-trafficking advocates say the sex trafficking industry is fueled by an exploitative business model: traffickers will continue to supply victims, as long as demand remains high among those willing to purchase sex.
"Buyers can be your pastor, buyers can be your teacher, buyers can be the soccer coach that lives down the street," said DeKalb County District Attorney, Sherry Boston. "They are the 'man next door,' and they are the husband you are sleeping next to at night."
Boston's office is charged with prosecuting sex trafficking related crimes. She said the average sentence for pandering -- or purchasing sex -- is paying a fine, and serves as a weak deterrent to stemming the demand.
"The level of punishment associated with pandering makes it an offense no greater than getting a DUI in Georgia," she said. "In fact, it may be more of a hassle...to get a DUI."
Stopping the cycle of selling girls requires tougher punishment for buyers, but for now, the demand is here to stay