ATLANTA — In December 2021, a Cherokee County deputy conducted a traffic stop that would launch a multi-agency investigation across Cherokee and Fulton counties that would lead to the arrest of six men who are accused of exploiting a 15-year-old girl over the course of several months.
The Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit said on on Dec. 18, 2021, in Cherokee County, a traffic stop was conducted on a vehicle driven by Mark Thomas. A 16-year-old girl was in the passenger seat.
Following this traffic stop, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations launched a multi-county investigation in partnership with the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s SWAT Team.
It was discovered during an interview that the 16-year-old girl had been allegedly sold for sex by Mark Thomas for approximately three months beginning in September 2021 when she was 15 years old.
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Thomas is alleged to have driven the child to Woodstock, where she was to be sold to Jose Medina Dominguez and Cesar Juarez Oaxaca. Those acts which are alleged to have occurred in Cherokee County are the subject of one indictment.
The Attorney General’s office said Thomas is also alleged to have sold the child for sex along Fulton Industrial Boulevard and in surrounding hotels. Cedric Johnson is alleged to have assisted Thomas, including receiving a portion of the financial proceeds from the sale of the underage victim.
Ruben Tolentino is alleged to have purchased the child for sex. Those acts, which are alleged to have occurred in Fulton County, are the subject of a separate indictment.
On Tuesday, Dionte Johnson was arrested in connection to the exploitation of this minor in Fulton County.
11Alive obtained his arrest affidavit that states Johnson worked at the Economy Motel off Fulton Industrial Boulevard between Oct. 14, 2021, and Nov. 26, 2021. The affidavit accuses Johnson of not only buying the teenager for "commercial sex acts," but providing a room to further exploit the 15-year-old.
At the time Johnson was employed at the motel and accused of exploiting the teenager, he was also a registered sex offender. The sex offender registry states he registered in 2013 following a conviction on aggravated sexual battery.
11Alive’s Cody Alcorn stopped by the motel on Friday. Staff at the motel seemed shocked by the news of his arrest and charge.
When asked about his past employment and the fact he’s a registered sex offender, a staff member said, “He wouldn’t have gotten no job here if he was a sex offender, he wouldn’t have gotten a job the first time -- when he got hired, he wouldn’t have got a job, they do background checks.”
The investigation is ongoing into the exploitation of this teenager. In 2019, with the support of Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp and leaders in the Georgia General Assembly, Attorney General Chris Carr created the first-of-its-kind statewide Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.