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Pic: Pentagon official arrested in human trafficking ring bust

Police car. (Dreamstime/TNS)
November 27, 2023

A Pentagon official responsible for overseeing federal school systems for military families was recently arrested and charged in connection with a human trafficking operation in Georgia.

Last week, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office announced that officers had arrested 26 individuals in association with an alleged human trafficking ring.

“The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office conducted a Human Trafficking Operation on November 15 and 16, 2023, and requested the HCSO Special Ops Div to assist. During the two days, six victims of Human Trafficking were rescued and moved to safety,” the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office stated on X, formerly Twitter. “A total of 26 arrests were made, 12 for prostitution, 10 for pandering, and four for pimping. Three of the individuals are currently under investigation for human trafficking and drug charges.”

WSB-TV Atlanta reported that 64-year-old Stephen Hovanic, from Sharpsburg, Georgia, was arrested and charged with pandering during the two-day operation.

According to Stars and Stripes, Hovanic has been employed by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) for almost 30 years and has served as chief of staff for the department’s Americas region for the past 13 years. The DoDEA is responsible for federal schools on U.S. military bases across the globe.

The Pentagon official was charged with pandering after he allegedly solicited sex with an undercover agent in a motel room, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.

“This kind of operation is really important to us, because, number one, sex buyers are a huge problem in the industry. Without sex buyers, there wouldn’t be a market for the females to continue to be victimized,” an agent told FOX 5. “Second, and probably most importantly for all of us, is the victimization of these females. There’s not a good scenario for them in this lifestyle, so the goal is to get them out of this lifestyle.”

The X account, “End Wokeness,” tweeted a picture of Hovanic, stating, “Biden Pentagon official Stephen Francis Hovanic. One of his jobs was to oversee elementary schools for the Pentagon. He was just busted in a massive human trafficking sting in Georgia.

In the aftermath of the human trafficking bust operation, Fox News reported that the DoDEA had listed Hovanic’s chief of staff position as “vacant” on its official website.

According to WSB-TV Atlanta, the DoDEA released a statement explaining that the department is “aware of an alleged incident involving a DoDEA employee in the Americas Region.”

READ MORE: 14 missing kids, 17 adults rescued in Missouri human trafficking operation

“As there are ongoing legal processes, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” the department added. “Any questions regarding the incident should be directed to the local law enforcement agency involved.”

On its official website, the DoDEA describes itself as “one of only two Federally-operated school systems” that is “responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD).”

According to Fox News, the DoDEA currently manages 160 schools located in 11 different countries, seven states, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The DoDEA serves almost 70,000 military and DoD children and has roughly 15,000 employees.