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Prostitution sting launched in response to juvenile sex trafficking

September 12th, 2015 12:00 pm by Wayne Anderson, Sullivan County Sheriff

Prostitution sting launched in response to juvenile sex trafficking

Editor’s note: Guest editorials may not necessarily reflect the opinion of the newspaper. The following is from Wayne Anderson, sheriff of Sullivan County.

Re. J.T. Wyatt’s letter in regards to the story “Online sting nets six arrests for prostitution,” it is important for readers to understand why this undercover sting operation was conducted.

Several months ago, members of our criminal investigations division and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation discussed investigations into sex trafficking of juveniles. This discussion was conducted due to an incident which involved a young adult from our area that was lured into the world of human trafficking.

Along with other state and federal agencies, we were able to stop a bad situation from getting worse. To investigate these crimes, it takes a multijurisdictional response to ensure that these victims, the juveniles lured into this activity, are helped and protected and the criminal offender is prosecuted.

This is a very challenging investigation to say the least. Our target for this investigation was the juvenile females who had been coerced, forced, manipulated or lured into this activity.

During the course of the investigation, several adult females were caught in violation of Tennessee state law. Also, many of these offenders were involved in drug activity.

This investigation was not just about prostitution. It was about trying to stop one of the most heinous crimes being committed today, human sex trafficking.

In response to Mr. Wyatt’s comments regarding ethics, ethics can be defined as that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions. In no way was any of this operation unethical.

By arresting these females and males that were involved in this operation, we were able to address several concerns from drug activity, possible trafficking issues and giving these offenders the opportunity to receive information on helping themselves out of this pattern of behavior.

As a law enforcement agency, our purpose is to serve and protect the citizens of the area we have jurisdiction. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, prostitution is small to other criminal activity. But one must understand that prostitution could be the foundation of kidnapping, sex trafficking, sexual assaults, drug activity, thefts, robberies and even murder.

I believe residents of Sullivan County would want us to continue these operations in hopes that one life could be saved or one life could be changed for the better by targeting this criminal activity.

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