Game Day attracts investigators to Athens

University of Georgia game days can be considered fun, but they can also be dangerous.

This is what drew the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to Athens. As part of Operation Cross Country X, organized by the FBI, the GBI along with the Athens-Clarke County police department attempted to stop child predators who were willing to pay to have sex with a child.

Agents arrested five men over a two-day period.

Debbie Garner, the GBI special agent who oversaw the operation, said that the decision to come to Athens  had more to do with the large game day nature rather than the city itself.

“Studies have shown that large sporting events have greater sex trafficking activity,” Garner said.

Athens is No. 6 in terms of total population in Georgia, with 122,000 people. On game day Saturdays, that population jumps to over 350,000 people — only the second most populated city behind Atlanta.

“It’s because there are more people which leads to higher demand at that time,” Garner said.

Garner also said the GBI wanted to focus their search in Athens because of the cooperation with the ACC police department.

“They had the man-power we needed to conduct an investigation like this,” Garner said.

The focus of Operation Cross Country X was to recover underage victims of sex trafficking and to draw the public’s attention to the problem of sex trafficking at home and abroad.

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By: Alex Makrides

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