Investigators use Internet to find, save Augusta sex trafficking victims

Investigators use Internet to find, save Augusta sex trafficking victims

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - To find sex trafficking victims, Investigator Tony Hyatt turns to the Internet, where prostitutes are advertised on websites like Backpage and Craigslist.

"When we find those ads on there, they're only in the area for a day or two," Hyatt said.

Hyatt says they have to act fast before the women are moved to the next city for the next customers.

In October, authorities arrested Earthell Tyler after investigators found two women he advertised online. The victims told investigators Tyler forced them into prostitution.

In August, authorities say they rescued a 16-year-old girl who was sold for sex. They found her in Augusta after seeing her in an online ad for adult services.

Hyatt says many times law enforcement is the only hope victims have of escaping prostitution.

"There are a lot of underage kids out there who are being lured into these operations who are being prostituted out for money," he said. "They're being drugged up, forced to have sex with multiple persons a day." 

A big clue he looks for when searching for juvenile victims are pictures where the face isn't shown.

Hyatt says having a front row seat to the dark world of prostitution is difficult.

"It is hard seeing some of this stuff and once you actually make contact with the victim being able to speak to them, they really open up and give you an idea of their past and it's sad to see that," Hyatt said.

But Hyatt says when they're able to free a woman who was being sold for sex, it's well worth it.

While a lot of their work happens on the Internet, investigators say many times family and close friends of the victims are able to give them information that leads to a rescue.

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