Lawmaker helps shed light on human trafficking in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The issue of human trafficking is now getting a lot of attention in Tennessee and upon the state’s Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have even been on stings aimed at catching the “johns” and helping underage children caught up in trafficking.

It’s not the first time state lawmakers have been on a sex trafficking sting, but it’s the first time one of them is talking about it.

“I got a call one day a few weeks in advance,” says first-term lawmaker Michael Curcio, who is also vice-chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee. The call came from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wondering if he wanted to see a sex trafficking sting conducted at a suburban Nashville hotel.

He was told by his “TBI contact” that agents had posed as underage online girls.

“He said basically we will set this up with you and a couple of other legislators from the House and Senate,” Curcio said in an exclusive interview. “He said, ‘You’ll have the opportunity to come in and basically witness and watch how these operations work.’”

Lawmakers can be a voice for more TBI agents funded by state government. Agents on human trafficking stings might take away from other investigative duties, says the lawmaker.

Two years ago, Curcio said lawmakers did provide funding for more TBI agents and they likely will do so in the future.

“So that they can have the manpower… to be able to conduct without taking away from the rest of the state coverage,” the lawmaker added.

Rep. Curcio said he also learned something else on that fall night a few months back about what may happen during the TBI’s human trafficking stings.

“We focused that night on attracting ‘johns’ to come to the room, but sometimes they (TBI) will turn it around and they will try to attract people who are trafficking children to come to the hotel,” said Curcio. “And when they do that, they can arrest the trafficker, but they can also get the children some help.”

The lawmaker said it bears repeating that reports indicate about 100 Tennessee children trafficked monthly for sex.

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