NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — An undercover Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agent detailed some of the sobering facts Monday about human trafficking in a legislative hearing room.
It was a wide-ranging workshop about the troublesome issue that is labeled as “the second-highest rising crime in Tennessee.”
“What we are looking at is forced prostitution, forced labor and prostitution of kids of any type,” said the TBI agent before an audience of those often on the front lines of human trafficking.
They heard an all-to-typical example of a 14- to 15-year-old girl from a small Tennessee town.
“She meets some guys on the internet. She jumps in the car with them one night and they go off to the big city of Nashville,” said the TBI agent. “And there is money. There is sex and vodka and pills and having a great time and then she decides she wants to go home.”
But the young teenage girl can’t go home.
Derri Smith knows the many complex fronts of fighting human trafficking.
In 2008, she started the group End Slavery Tennessee.
The group helps pass state laws such as one recently about joining some human trafficking cases into one.
“So that investigators don’t have to try the case in Memphis and then in Nashville and then try it in another town,” said Smith. “It is hard on the victims. It is hard on the investigators.”
Memphis Rep. London Lamar talked about her aim by hosting the workshop.
“Most importantly is an understanding of how we can further support TBI to prevent sex trafficking.” said the lawmaker. “Its the second highest rising crime in Tennessee.”
Among the most sobering statistics heard Monday in the workshop is that human trafficking touches just about every county in Tennessee and the average age of victims when they begin is 13-years-old.
The TBI reminds anyone there is a phone number to help with this issue.
Its called the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at (855) 558-6484.