Brothels, Parlors, the Street and the Internet: Soliciting Sex in the Nation's Underground Sex Capital, Atlanta [REPORT]
See Related Article entitled, "Sex, Underground: The Underground Sex Economy and Latinas' Body in America's Sex Trafficking Capitals [REPORT]"
Evocative Latino brothels, erotic Asian massage parlors, and the merchandising of the female body online and offline are the foundation of the underground commercial sex industry in D.C. and Atlanta; stimulating the local economy. Pun intended.
Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime, and it generates $32 billion a year. Twenty-seven million are exploited for sexual and manual labor; the average age of these victims are 12 years old, and according to some studies, victims may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. Human trafficking is on the rise in all 50 states, and unfortunately, only 1-2 percent of human trafficking victims are ever rescued.
The average sex act in D.C. costs between $20 and $150, totaling about $103 million in 2007... the same value of the city's drug industry; nonetheless, Atlanta managed to have D.C. beat, reigning as the city with the largest underground sex industry since 2007, valued at $290 million.
Prostitutes are expected to meet a quota, which D.C. police estimate to be $500 a day or $1,000 a weekend. If these goals are met, then pimps earn $234,000 a year per prostitute. Pimps in D.C. say they averaged about $11,588 in cash income per week between 2005 and 2011, while in Atlanta pimps average $33,000 per week -- those figures fastening the city in the top slot for a high-raking sex work economy. While the value of the industry has dropped within recent years, on a national level, the level of adult and sex trafficking has actually increased, according to police.
"Because of [D.C.'s] location between Maryland and Virginia, much of the underground commercial sex activity occurs without regard to jurisdiction. Furthermore, because of its location along major highways (I-95, I-66, I-270) and its proximity to Baltimore, DC is a significant part of East Coast sex trafficking circuits," an Urban Institute study read.
The sex trafficking capital, Atlanta, earns its ranking due to its position as a transportation hub, the same reason why drug trafficking is high in the area. The city has a diverse underground sex market that caters to many tastes. While there's evidence that Atlanta attracts visitors specifically because the area's sex industry, authorities have done little to crack down on the problem.
While investigating the metropolitan's underground industry, 11Alive's CIA investigative unit became acquainted with Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson, who gave them a glimpse into Atlanta's multi-million dollar underground sex industry.
DeLuca-Johnson is president of Street Grace, a faith-based organization working to end sexual exploitation of children, and she recently lobbied along with hundreds of other to urge state lawmakers about the issue.
"I do want our city to have a different reputation and if you look at the people here today, that's what we're working toward is all of us working together to end it," said DeLuca-Johnson.
The blame does not solely lie with Georgia's legislature, which has passed some of the sternest child sex and prostitution laws in the nation; there's difficulty finding enough officers and resources to focus exclusively on the underground sex industry.
"Our state has very strong laws. They're great tools for law enforcement and prosecutors, so that's not our problem," said GBI Director Vernon Keenan. "Many of our resources have been devoted to drug enforcement in the past. This type of criminal activity goes hand in hand with the drug trade."
Keenan has said that there will be new surveys regarding the sex trafficking epidemic that will be published within a number of weeks. The survey will be done in collaboration with Georgia State University, the Governor's Office, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the FBI.
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