12 alleged unlicensed care homes raided

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Police in Gwinnett County, GA, raided 12 alleged unlicensed care homes in Snellville and issued eight arrest warrants for suspects accused of exploiting at-risk adults Dec. 2. All of the suspects are related to one another or are friends, according to police.

The effort, dubbed Operation Mercury, involved about 150 law enforcement professionals and others from state and county agencies. "The unlicensed care homes are housing numerous people who are suffering from a range of mental and physical illnesses," the police department said in a statement. "The victims are living in unsafe and unsupervised conditions, and some have a diminished mental capacity."

Detectives said that the state had been monitoring several of the victims' accounts for fraudulent activity. "It is believed that the suspects are forcing the victims to relinquish their EBT and SSI payments as rent for these locations," according to the statement.

Police expected to relocate up to 10 people per raided location. The residents are being moved to licensed care facilities. Police expect to file additional charges.

The investigation began May 6 when police responded to a domestic dispute at an additional residence they subsequently suspected was an unlicensed personal care home. The probe uncovered additional suspected personal care homes. Dec. 2, police initially raided seven homes but expanded the searches to five additional homes based on evidence discovered while executing the original search warrants.

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