ATLANTA — Investigators said Friday 40 people have now been arrested for sex trafficking in the metro Atlanta area as part of crackdown during Super Bowl week.
Homeland Security spokesperson Brian Cox said that seven more arrests had been made since a news conference two days earlier. Four people have been recovered: two adults and two juveniles, Cox said.
Atlanta is considered one of the biggest hubs of sex trafficking nationwide. And the illegal business is prominent during major sporting events, according to research.
With the Super Bowl in town, DHS is leading the human trafficking investigation and on the lookout to help recover more people affected by the crime.
Organizations are also stepping in to fight back against sex trafficking. Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution spent the weekend passing out fliers with the names and photos of 16 girls that are missing.
“Atlanta is one of the top cities for sex trafficking of children in the United States," the group's website said. "With the Super Bowl coming in February 2019, we need your help to rescue these missing kids."
Since the fliers went up, an 18-year-old Flowery Branch man has been charged in connection with the disappearance of one of the girls seen in the S.O.A.P. sex trafficking poster at hotels around metro Atlanta.
According to the Hall County Sheriff's Office, Jesse Brian Quintanilla has been arrested for unlawful interference with child custody after he left with a 16-year-old girl seen in the posters. There is no indication, at this point, that she was involved in any form of human trafficking.
Airports and hotels are vulnerable spots for human trafficking. Delta Air Lines trains its employees to spot signs and to report their findings to a national hotline that deals with human trafficking.
“It is not our role to be law enforcement,” Kimberly Duran of Delta explained. “But we can make those observations and share anything that needs to be reported.”