Lake Park woman charged with human trafficking

Sep. 19—LAKE PARK — A 30-year-old Lake Park woman has been charged with two counts of first degree cruelty to children and one count of human trafficking, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Tuesday.

The charges were filed following a joint investigation involving the Echols County Sheriff's Office and the GBI's Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit.

On Feb. 8, 2023, the Echols County Sheriff's Office requested GBI's HEAT Unit assist with a human trafficking case involving a minor.

The investigation revealed that the minor was a victim of human trafficking for labor servitude, the GBI said. The GBI did not say how old the child was.

After entering the U.S., the minor was forced to work in produce fields, the GBI said.

His aunt — the woman who was arrested — was also physically abusive to him, the GBI alleged. The victim eventually ran away and sought help from law enforcement.

This investigation is another example of interagency collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies to combat human trafficking, the GBI said.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Echols County Sheriff's Office at 229-559-5603 or the GBI's HEAT Unit at 404-270-8846.

All forms of human trafficking should be reported to Georgia's statewide human trafficking hotline, 1-866-ENDHTGA. Trained law enforcement agents, advocates, and first responders are available 24/7 to answer calls.