HOMER - A traffic stop on Interstate 85 in Banks County Wednesday afternoon led to a lengthy manhunt for four men and the detention of 10 others in what's being investigated as a possible human trafficking case.
Banks County Chief Deputy Shawn Wilson said a deputy stopped a GMC Yukon with a Texas license plate on I-85 northbound at Exit 154 (Georgia Highway 63/Martin Bridge Road). When he did, numerous Hispanic males jumped out and ran.
The officer was able to subdue several of those, but four escaped, launching a massive manhunt along I-85, Georgia Highway 63, and Georgia Highway 59.
"Two of them were caught in Banks County - the driver and one passenger," Wilson said.
One of those men was captured by officers Wednesday afternoon following a brief foot chase into the woods at mile marker 155 northbound on I-85.
"The driver was caught in the area of the Hudson River," Wilson said. "The other two were caught underneath a house in Franklin County by Franklin County officers."
Wilson said the sheriff's office conducted a search warrant on the vehicle last night.
"It looks to modified for heavy quantities," Wilson said. "The springs on it had been modified so that when it was loaded down it would look like it wasn't loaded at all."
The driver is charged with felony obstruction for shoving a deputy, misdemeanor obstruction, driving without license, and possibly another traffic charge.
Charges related to the alleged human trafficking would come from ICE, Wilson said. ICE officials have expressed an interest in placing a hold on the man.
"As far as the others, we're working on finding a safe place for them to go," Wilson said. "No one has shown any proof of citizenship or any other legal means of being here."
Wilson said ICE did not seem interested in deporting the other men.
The Lee Arrendale State Prison K-9 team, more than a dozen Banks County officers, the Georgia State Patrol, Georgia DPS Motor Carrier Compliance Division, and GSP Aviation were involved in the search for the men.
A government surplus Humvee, one of two just received by the Banks County Sheriff's Office for use during inclement weather, also was utilized to allow officers access to remote parts of the search area.
Watch for updates on this story.