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Fighting The Local Battle Of Human Trafficking

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 20:31:30-04

Recent cases have continued to shed light on the issue of human trafficking not only in Tennessee, but also across the country.

In San Antonio, investigators found a semi-trailer packed with dozens of undocumented immigrants. Ten people died, and one other person told police they took turns breathing through a hole in the truck wall. 

Last week, four people were arrested for promoting prostitution and trafficking after undercover detectives with the Metro Nashville Police Department raided two massage parlors and a nail salon.

"I'm not surprised at all. In fact, it happens a lot more than we know," Last Call 4 Grace Ministries, Inc. Founder Candy Carter told NewsChannel 5. 

Sex trafficking has been front and center for state officials and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

Every two minutes, a child bought or sold for sex every two minutes in the country, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. 

In Tennessee, 85 percent of the counties have reported instances of sex trafficking. About 72 percent of the country's reported cases of children sold for sex. 

"There is a righteous anger that I have on the inside," Carter added. "Children should be allowed to be children and enjoy the innocence of life. When someone takes that away from them, it's extreme evil."

Carter started her nonprofit organization 17 years ago, and has made a mark on he community and developed a close relationship with the Murfreesboro Police Department.

She took NewsChannel 5 to "hot spots" she said fosters prostitution and human trafficking.

Some of the locations included motels near an Interstate 24 exit, right outside a busy fast food restaurant and even next to a church. 

As part of her mission, she approaches people and develops relationship with them.

"If I start to see young girls out by themselves walking, I just look at their vulnerabilities, which doesn't necessarily mean they are a victim but they are a potential victim," Carter said.

The TBI started a campaign called "IT Has To Stop" to help provide resources and educate people who do no realize trafficking can happen anywhere and to anyone.

Officials and Carter said there are similarities among many victims, including drug addiction and a history of sexual abuse. 

"They're already down on their luck, they've already been manipulated in so many circumstances and then you add drug addiction to that, they are so vulnerable to being led into this," Carter said. 

In 2015, a TBI operation led to the arrests of several hundred men on prostitution and trafficking-related offenses.

Anyone can identify warning signs from victims through their physical appearance, possessions, behavior and lack of control.

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