Nowadays, Atlanta’s illegal sex business is still booming, but it’s gone high tech, out of site and online at sites like backpage com, where thousands of girls are marketed for sex every day in a sordid, underground economy generating an estimated $290 million a year, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
And the victims have gotten a lot younger, as young 12, in an era of modern day sex slavery.
That's the main focus of federal and local prosecutors like Dalia Racine, a DeKalb County assistant district attorney who is nationally known for her crusade against traffickers selling underage girls.
“It’s a huge problem, huge problem here in DeKalb County, in Georgia and across the U.S,” she tells CBS46 Investigates in an exclusive interview. “The domestic supply of our children into the sex trade."
A supply we’ve learned that’s been fueled by drug dealers moving into the lucrative sex trade, where they can make far more selling young girls.
“They can only sell a gun or a kilo of cocaine once,” says DeKalb County DA Robert James, “but traffickers see girls as a renewable resource you can sell over and over and over.”
In the last three years, Racine has filed 97 sex trafficking charges against pimps and Johns, barely scratching the surface of an estimated 10,000 transactions selling underage girls in the same period, or an estimated 300 underage girls sold for sex every month.