COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - You might have been surprised - as I was - to learn that sex trafficking of underage runaways happens right here in Columbus.
Our exclusive story on News Leader 9 with a man who goes by the name of Bishop was a real eye opener.
He is a nationally-known trafficking expert who wears a distinctive - even a little scary - full face, white mask. His mission is rescuing victims of sex trafficking.
He spoke to us a few days ago after a missing 15-year-old Columbus girl was found alive.
She was spotted by an alert citizen, who saw the girl on fliers, thanks to a committed group called the Trafficking in America Task Force.
It's hard to believe that something as terrible as sex trafficking can happen here.
You might think it's only a third-world problem. But Georgia is in fact a hotspot for this kind of criminal activity, which, more often than not, is linked to gangs, drugs and violence.
Experts say a high percentage of runaways are susceptible to human traffickers, who often hide them in plain sight: in normal looking homes.
These facts give us even more reason to know our neighbors and be alert to anything suspicious, making it harder for the human traffickers to hide.
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906