NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — A leading nonprofit in the fight against human trafficking ranked Tennessee No. 1 for its response against the crime.
Year over year, calls to the tip hotline increased to the point where a record number was received last year.
Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have been encouraged by the results, as tips lead to more arrests.
“Every year we’ve had an increase. Even last year, even with COVID and everything, is was over 900 different calls and tips that came in,” said Jeremy Lofquest, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the TBI Human Trafficking Unit.
Lofquest said human trafficking lurks in every community, but people are speaking up to help put a stop to the crime.
Tips like these helped in the hunt for a Nashville man, who was convicted for sex trafficking a missing 12-year-old girl from Texas while in Franklin.
“I’d much rather get 50 calls and have one of those be a case where we’re able to rescue that one,” Lofquest added, “Getting them out of the situation is worth the 49 other calls we’ve had to field.”
Agencies across the state are committed to stopping teen trafficking.
As the Communication Director of the TBI, Josh DeVine works tirelessly to get the word out.
“We’re starting to see that both law enforcement, and the community, know how to spot it and what do to when they do.” said DeVine. “I love hearing that the number of tips coming in is increasing, because that tells me that people are paying attention to this issue.”
Law enforcement agencies are applauding the public for being their eyes and ears as victims often don’t advocate for themselves.
“So many of these victims won’t self-identify as victims because their traffickers have mastered the art of manipulation. And if you think about it, their business model depends on it. They must be able to use individuals over and over and over again every single day,” said DeVine.
All tips made to the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline are confidential.
Specially-trained professionals are available 24/7 to take reports of potential trafficking.
The hotline number is 1-855-558-6484 or, you can make a report online.