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Gov. Kemp announces activation of GBI anti-trafficking HEAT unit

The governor announced the new unit had begun working on July 1.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that a Georgia Bureau of Investigation anti-human trafficking unit, known as the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit, or HEAT, had been activated as of July 1.

The new unit is based out of GBI Headquarters in Atlanta and is comprised of a special agent in charge, an assistant special agent in charge as well as four more agents under them. 

GBI Director Vic Reynolds said the state Criminal Justice Coordinating Council had provided grants to fund the special agent positions.

He said the unit would be focused on commercial sex trafficking, labor trafficking and rescuing trafficking victims.

"I want you to know without any equivocation that the GBI is coming after you, and we intend on pursuing these cases in every corner in the state of Georgia," Reynolds said, speaking to traffickers. "We are committed to ending the socurge of modern day slavery and we are committed to ending it now."

A similarly focused unit in the state attorney general's office was announced last year. That unit has now prosecuted cases in Cobb, Gwnnett, Greene and Chatham counties, Attorney General Chris Carr said at Thursday's press conference.

The governor, with the active involvement of his wife Marty Kemp, the Georgia first lady, has made combating trafficking one of his signature issues in office.

"I know that working together, I'm confident that we can end human trafficking in Georgia, hold criminals accountable and ensure a safer future for our survivors and our state," the governor said.