Five arrested in alleged human trafficking incident
An early morning Amber Alert called in by the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office over a kidnapped juvenile turned out to be more involved than initially reported, according to an update provided this evening on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Per their update, the victim who was being held by five individuals was initially reported to be 16, but turned out to be 18 and is now in custody along with five others involved in a human smuggling operation.
The HCSO reported on their Facebook page that the mother of the man initially reported he was younger, and the Sheriff’s Office followed up by calling in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and issue an Amber Alert.
“Deputies along with Bremen Police Department and Tallapoosa Police Department searched the area and Haralson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies located the van and its occupants at the Alabama Welcome Center on I-20 just inside of Alabama,” the facebook post stated. “The victim’s son was brought to the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office and five other individuals, including a pregnant female, were taken into custody by the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama.”
Per the HCSO, the agency was able to contact the Department of Homeland Security with the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to assist in the investigation.
“During the interview with the mother, it was discovered that she had given the wrong date of birth and that her son is 18 years old instead of 16 years old,” the update reported.
With that information, the HCSO determined it was best to turn over the case to Homeland Security. Offices in both Georgia and Alabama will investigate the incident, the agency added.
“We would like to thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, Bremen Police Department, Tallapoosa Police Department, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Homeland Security for all of the help in this investigation,” the update added.
The Haralson County Sheriff’s Office put out an Amber Alert during the early morning hours and cancelled it not long after when a 16-year-old male who was suspected to have been a kidnapping victim was found safe and sound.
Police arrested five individuals during the incident that took place during the early morning hours, including a pregnant female, according to a release from the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office this morning.
Per the release, police got involved in the incident after 911 received a phone call from the 16-year-old’s mother that he was with the individuals whom she paid to smuggle him into the United States. She had given the smugglers a down payment last week, and they were supposed to meet at the Georgia Welcome Center in Haralson County to exchange the rest of the money and deliver her son.
Instead, the release stated she didn’t have enough money on-hand to pay the rest due, and the smuggler responsible took the 16-year-old and said they would hold him until the full amount was paid.
“The mother called 911 and made the report,” the release stated. “Deputies called out an investigator to help look for the juvenile believing that the smugglers were still close by.”
They found the juvenile and several others at the Alabama Welcome Center not far from Haralson County by deputies. This was after an Amber Alert was sent out around the area, including residents in Polk.
The five individuals holding the juvenile were taken into custody by Cleburne County, Alabama officers.
“This human smuggling investigation is still ongoing and no other information can be released at this time,” the release stated.