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Alcoa is a small city of less than 10,000 residents, located south of Knoxville in Blount County, Tennessee. Local problems with prostitution, particularly occurring within adult-oriented businesses, have been reported in the community for over a decade. In 2002, for example, law enforcement dismantled a statewide prostitution ring operating out of several Blount County massage parlors including operations based in Alcoa.
Among their efforts to reduce prostitution in the community, the Alcoa Police Department has conducted periodic reverse stings to arrest sex buyers. In 2006, the APD apprehended six johns and one male juvenile during a prostitution sting along Hall Road. All of the adult offenders’ names and other identifying information were released to the public; in 2007, the Maryville Daily Times reported that a Blount County judge had agreed to dismiss the “patronizing prostitution” charges leveled against the six men on the contingency that they avoid re-arrest and pay all court costs.
In December 2014, news sources reported that APD officers had partnered with the Blount County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a sting that resulted in the arrest of four men. Although the logistical details of the operation were not disclosed, a BCSO representative stated in a press release that “the arrests were the result of a joint undercover investigation with the Alcoa Police Department to address recent complaints from the community regarding illegal activity at some local establishments.” All of the arrestees’ identities were publicized by local media outlets.
In July, 2019, a web-based reverse sting was conducted in Alcoa and surrounding areas in East Tennessee, resulting in the arrest of four men. Authorities placed decoy advertisements on websites known to be used for prostitution and commercial sex. Their goal was to identify people seeking to buy sex with females under age 18, as well as individuals engaged in trafficking others for commercial sex acts. The TBI, Alcoa Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police Department, and 5th Judicial Drug Task Force were all involved in the operation.
In September, 2020, six men were arrested by Alcoa Police Department undercover officers conducting a sting operation, and charged them with patronizing prostitution. The sting occurred at two motels on the Alcoa Highway, and a hotel at Singleton Station, Louisville. The undercover operation used female police officers as decoys at area hotels where they had complaints about prostitutes and men patronizing those prostitutes.
- Alcoa Police Department
- Blount County Sheriff’s Office
- Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
- Maryville Police Department
- 5th Judicial Drug Task Force
Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Six Men, One Juvenile,” Maryville Daily Times, June 24 2006.
- “Five Nabbed in Sting Appear in Court – Men Accused of Patronizing Prostitution,” Maryville Daily Times, July 21 2006.
- “Judge Rules in Alcoa Prostitution Cases,” Maryville Daily Times, February 1 2007.
- “4 Men Arrested in Prostitution Bust by Blount County and Alcoa Officials,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, December 5 2014.
- “Four Men Charged after Undercover Prostitution Sting in Blount Co.,” CBS/WVLT-TV 8, December 5 2014.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Four Arrests,” Maryville Daily Times, December 6 2014.
- https://www.thedailytimes.com/news/apd-arrests-six-after-successful-prostitution-sting/ (2020)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://newschannel9.com/tbi-four-men-arrested-in-ongoing-sex-trafficking-investigation-in-east-tennessee (2019)
- https://www.wrcbtv.com/story/40821672/tbi-human-trafficking-operation-nets-four-arrests-in-east-tennessee (2019)
- https://wcyb.com/news/local/four-men-arrested-in-human-trafficking-operation (2019)
- https://www.knoxnews.com/human-trafficking-investigation-east-tennessee-tbi-arrests-blount-county (2019)
- https://www.wbir.com/four-arrested-in-east-tennessee-following-human-trafficking-sting (2019)
Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:
- “Four Women Facing Charges after Officers Raid Alcoa Highway Spas,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 20 1992.
- “Three Spa Workers Admit to Prostitution,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 2 1992.
- “VIP Spa Worker Charged with Prostitution,” Maryville Daily Times, December 16 1997.
- “Get out of Town, Judge Tells Prostitute after Plea,” Maryville Daily Times, December 18 1997.
- “Spas Shut down to Stop Alleged Prostitution Ring,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, July 24 2002.
- “Arrests Continue in Investigation; Warrants Issued Nationwide,” Maryville Daily Times, July 25 2002.
- “Alcoa Spa Shuts down Second Time,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, October 23 2002.
- “Parlor Owner Pleads Guilty,” Wilmington Star-News, June 5 2003.
- “Woman Arrested in Alcoa Massage Parlor Raid Pleads Guilty,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, June 5 2003.
- “Woman Gets Probation in Multi-State Prostitution Ring,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, October 1 2003.
- “Local Officers Nab Women in Craigslist Prostitution Sting,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, July 18 2009.
- “Police Nab Four Women in Craigslist Prostitution Sting at Alcoa Motel,” Maryville Daily Times, July 18 2009.
- “Sting Unveils Craigslist Underside,” Maryville Daily Times, July 20 2009.
- “911 Hang-Up Call Leads to Prostitution Arrest on Alcoa Highway,” Maryville Daily Times, July 27 2011.
- “Nuisance Motels Shut down in Alcoa,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, March 16 2013.
- “Alcoa Motel Closed for Nuisance Charges Reopens,” ABC/WATE-TV 6, March 28 2013.