Wise County

Man Paid to Transport Guatemalan Child to Georgia Charged With Human Trafficking: Sheriff

The suspect has been identified as 38-year-old Benito Granado of Charlotte, North Carolina

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A recent traffic stop along the highway led to a human trafficking arrest, according to Wise County authorities.

Benito Granado, 38, of Charlotte, North Carolina is accused of being paid to transport a young teenager from California to Georgia.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said one of his deputies stopped Granado late last week. Granado was driving southbound on U.S. Highway 287 just north of Decatur and was pulled over for traveling in the left lane without passing anyone.

The deputy who made the traffic stop noticed a 13-year-old boy in the front passenger seat and started to question the driver.

At first, Akin said Granado told him the boy was a friend.

“The deputy then asks the driver, what’s his last name? The man didn’t know his last name,” Akin said. “The driver said he left North Carolina, drove to California and he was there to see his mother who was seriously ill, but he said he was in California for only three hours.”

Granado’s story conflicted with the 13-year-old’s, who said Granado was his father. Investigators later found out, the child was from Guatemala and had recently crossed the border to get into the United States.

He had been in California for a few weeks, Akin said.

“We don’t know all the details, but it’s obvious that traffic stop has that child in a safe place now. So we’re thankful for that,” he said. “We train our deputies to be situationally aware. When they make traffic stops, when they have encounters at convenience stores to look for things beyond the norm. Look for things that just don’t match, just don’t fit and give you some calls for concern.”

Akin said at this point, it’s unclear exactly why child was being transported to Georgia.

Granado faces one charge of second degree felony for trafficking of persons. Bond was set for $100,000, which Granado posted Wednesday, according to Sheriff Akin.

It is unclear whether Granado has obtained legal representation.

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