Human Trafficking Operation Nets 26 Arrests, Including Pentagon Official
An undercover human trafficking operation resulted in the arrest of 26 individuals, among them Stephen Hovanic.
An undercover human trafficking operation conducted by the Coweta County (GA) Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 16 has resulted in the arrest of 26 individuals, among them Stephen Hovanic, the chief of staff for Defense Department schools in the United States, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
The two-day operation aimed to combat human trafficking, but uncovered a web of illicit activities.
Hovanic, a 64-year-old resident of Sharpsburg, faces charges of pandering, a misdemeanor in Georgia. According to Stars and Stripes, he oversees children’s education within the Pentagon’s Defense Department schools.
Hovanic allegedly solicited sex from an undercover officer in a motel room specifically arranged for the operation. He said he believed he was procuring a massage, not engaging in illegal sexual activities with the woman.
The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said charges against the 26 individuals including pandering, prostitution, and pimping.
According to deputies, six women were identified as victims of human trafficking and were offered help.
“The victims were taken to an undisclosed ‘safe house,’ where they will receive the help they need to move forward from the heinous crime of human trafficking,” Sgt. Toby Nix of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office told The Newman Times-Herald. “All females contacted in this operation were offered the same assistance, with some refusing any aid. Pandering is not a victimless crime, as the demand for prostitution drives the sex trafficking market.”
Sheriff’s deputies emphasized that the human trafficking investigation remains ongoing, hinting at the possibility of additional arrests and charges.