Thirty-two people were arrested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) in late May for human trafficking during a three-day undercover operation. According to the TBI, which coordinated efforts with the Knoxville police department, 32 men and women were arrested on prostitution and human trafficking-related charges. Two of the men, including a children’s minister, responded to ads for what they thought were girls under the age of 18. The sting, titled “Operation Someone Like Me,” is the fifth between the TBI and other agencies to help identify and prosecute traffickers and rescue victims in what has become a $150 billion business.
Two of the men who were arrested are church pastors, one of whom is a Knoxville youth minister for children aged birth through fifth grade. Both responded to ads offering sex with girls under age 18. The contacts with all arrested were made through advertisements placed on Background.com. A public awareness campaign titled “ItHasToStop” was launched in the state last year to help identify victims of sex/human trafficking and to offer housing, counseling and addition treatment services.