Brothels in Bangladesh.
Brick kilns in India. Farm workers in faraway places.
This is what we normally think of when we hear the appalling term 'human trafficking. No more. Three women were arrested recently on charges of practicing massage without s in Sevierville. This followed a law enforcement operation that saw two women arrested in Seymour on similar charges. Another series of arrests in Knoxville last month rounded up 32 men, including two pastors — one who worked with kids — in a sting involving Craigslist.
The common theme in the three stings was sex, of course. One targeted 'johns.
But the operations had another thing in common — all were connected to broader efforts to combat human trafficking. The Knox County sting was sickening, yielding the arrests of two men of the cloth who held positions of trust within their communities.
The Seymour arrests were sad, making me wonder how such a thing could happen in a bedroom community to Knoxville. The Sevierville arrests shocked.
I jogged past Chinese Pressure Massage on Monday. I've walked or jogged past the nondescript storefront in a nice but unexceptional strip mall hundreds of times over the past few years. I've driven past thousands of times over the many years. Millions of tourists drive obliviously by every year.
Human trafficking hit home when I read the U. Department of Homeland Security was involved in an operation less than a mile from my home. I've written on trafficking before.
We give money monthly to International Justice Mission. Still, these arrests come too close.
With millions of tourists each year, the sheer volume of humanity could increase demand for sex trafficking, specifically, and human trafficking, generally, in Sevier. A survey by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showed 16 to 25 cases of sex trafficking of minors and 51 to incidents of adult sex trafficking in Sevier County. Knox County, meanwhile, reported more than cases of minors and more than cases of adult sex trafficking.
The influential tourism trade group Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association addresses human trafficking on its website as an issue of interest, publishing the state phone and the website to report suspected trafficking www. State Department trafficking website.
Human trafficking, as I've said before, is a stain on the soul of humanity. Now, I can see it from home.
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