🔒 The Gist: A federal investigation has culminated in the sentencing of five individuals for running a sex trafficking operation in the Northern District of Georgia, which was initially uncovered due to a missing minor from Miami, Florida.
🤔 Why It Matters: This sentencing brings a measure of justice for vulnerable victims and underscores the pervasive issue of sex trafficking in the Southern United States.
❓ What’s Happening:
- The criminal operation existed from November 2015 until December 2016.
- Six minor girls, ages 16 to 17, were coerced into prostitution.
🗣️ In Their Words:
- U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan stated that the victims from immigrant communities can be especially fearful of reporting such crimes.
- Assistant Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, Brian Ozden, emphasized that these crimes are among the “most depraved on the books.
🔍 Between the Lines:
- Brian Hernandez Acosta and co-defendants Nilageo Alvarez Acosta, Jaime Adam Riano, Anthony Joseph Lawhon, and Brandi Rice Stumpe were identified as the perpetrators.
- The criminals used online platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Backpage.com to pursue and advertise the girls, listing false ages.
🏃 Catch Up Quick:
- The missing minor was transported to Georgia by two defendants and coerced into committing commercial sex acts.
- Law enforcement agencies including Dalton Police, FBI, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations were involved in the investigation.
📜 The Sentencing:
- Jaime Adam Riano, 34, of East Ridge, Tennessee, received seven years in prison.
- Nilageo Alvarez-Acosta, 37, of Camaguey, Cuba, received 23 years.
- Hernandez Acosta, 32, of Havana, Cuba, received 30 years.
- Brandi Rice Stumpe, 40, of Powder Springs, Georgia, received five years.
- Anthony Joseph Lawhon, 44, of Atlanta, Georgia, received 10 years.