Underaged sex trafficking victims rescued after standoff

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA (WXIA) -- A DeKalb County apartment became the site of a SWAT team standoff early Friday after a suspected sex trafficker pointed a gun at police.

The result? The arrest of three adults, and the rescue of two underage victims – ages 12 and 14. Their rescue occurred at the end of a 3½ hour standoff with DeKalb Police.

"They had to go into an apartment, really not knowing what was inside that apartment other than there were children who needed to be rescued," said DeKalb County Police Chief, Dr. Cedric Alexander.

The children were believed to be victims of sex trafficking. When police knocked on the apartment at the Park at Hairston Apartments in the 1000 block of Hairston Road in Stone Mountain, one of the adults believed responsible came to the window and pointed a gun. That's when the SWAT team was called. Following the standoff, two men and one woman were arrested.

"Human trafficking, false imprisonment, statutory rape, child molestation, aggravated assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and interference with custody," Alexander said, detailing the charges against the suspects.

Even more charges – and more arrests – could be coming. Police would not release the suspects' names, because those suspects are believed to be related to other trafficking cases around the area.

"Quite frankly, we're only at the tip of this, and we suspect that more activity like this goes on in the community," said Alexander.

About this time a year ago, a federal study singled out Atlanta as the metro region with the highest sex trafficking trade in the country. Now, this case, where a standoff with this many flashing lights might just be the start.

"We need to be able to understand the importance of being a voice for these young people if they are indeed potential victims," Alexander said.

One note about where this happened: this apartment complex, just southwest of Stone Mountain, has hundreds of units. Police say it can be difficult for neighbors to notice something as suspicious even as sex trafficking when so many people are going in and out at a given spot.

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