State-wide prostitution busts shows growing trend

State-wide prostitution busts shows growing trend

Posted:
Midori Health Spa in Chattanooga was part of Friday's bust Midori Health Spa in Chattanooga was part of Friday's bust
Interstate Spa in Roane County was shut down after a raid by TBI and local law enforcement Interstate Spa in Roane County was shut down after a raid by TBI and local law enforcement

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A state-wide prostitution bust dubbed "Operation Paladin" shows growing trends in the sex trafficking industry.

On Friday night the Interstate Spa in Roane County was shut down after a raid by TBI and local law enforcement. It was one of more than a dozen massage parlor spas busted for prostitution and human trafficking.

According to TBI, 85 percent of Tennessee counties have reported incidents of sex trafficking.

In their report, TBI says Tennessee and especially East Tennessee have one key element that makes the state conducive to sex trafficking and prostitution and that's interstates.

Located off highway 27 in Roane County is the non-descript Interstate Spa. It's doors closed after law enforcement busted the business for prostitution.

However, brothels masking as "spas" are all too common in Tennessee.

"When you look at the problem and try to identify how many of them are legitimate massage parlors, how many of them may have prostitution, how many have forced prostitution taking place, it's hard to put a number on it," explained Christi Wigil, the former director of the Community Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

As a sex and human trafficking advocate, Wigil says investigations like "Operation Paladin" are incredibly important.

"It takes operations just like this on Friday night because you don't want to pursue one and set off the others. Because a lot of them are owned by the same person, so if you tip off one of them they can very quickly shut down another one, move the girls somewhere else," she explained.  

TBI is still investigating to determine whether any of the spas are connected.

According to TBI, the Interstate Spa was one of more than a dozen businesses shut down.

The Chinese Therapeutic Massage Spa, Health Massage Spa in Murfreesboro and the Midori Health Spa in Chattanooga were also part of Friday's bust. All three are located near the interstates. TBI says interstate traffic makes this area conducive for possible crime.

"When you have so many interstates passing through Tennessee it makes it more accessible to be along the interstate, for truck drivers that are passing through," Wigil said.

Wigil says bust like these remind the public that this is a serious problem in East Tennessee.

"We know there are brothels throughout Tennessee, throughout East Tennessee and investigations like Friday are a significant step," she said.

She also say's it's important for the public to be vigilant. If a business looks suspicious she says call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 855-558-6484.

TBI also says anyone with information about possible illegal activity is urged to contact the Department of Health Board of Massage Licensure. Anyone with information about prostitution or human trafficking is urged to call TBI at 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3463).

 

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.