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Columbia is a city of approximately 43,000 residents, located about an hour south of Nashville in Maury County, Tennessee. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well documented problems in Columbia and the surrounding areas for decades. For example, in December 2011, three local men were convicted of human trafficking in Columbia. According to a federal press release, “between September 2008 and October 2010, several female victims of the [men’s] human trafficking enterprise suffered violent assaults by the [men] for, among other reasons, keeping extra money charged to clients and not reporting it to Roberts. One victim was kicked in the torso, causing her lung to collapse, and during another assault, Roberts choked her to the point of unconsciousness. Another victim was hospitalized in June 2010, after Roberts assaulted her and fractured bones in her face.”
Although media outlets report that street prostitution is relatively rare in the city, the Columbia Police Department has conducted at least one street-level reverse sting. The February 2004 operation, led by the CPD’s Narcotics and Vice Unit, resulted in the arrest of nine male sex buyers. Their names were not released to the public.
Background on Local Sex Trafficking:
- “Prostitution Ring Victimized Hispanics”, The Tennessean, May 27 2011.
- “3 Columbia Men Sentenced for Human Trafficking”, WTVF-TV 5, December 5 2011.
- “Columbia, Tennessee Men Sentenced in Federal Court for Human Trafficking Conspiracy”, Press Release, United States Department of Justice, December 5 2011.
- https://www.tennessean.com/brentwood-tbi-prostitution-sting-terry-garner (2019)
- https://www.newschannel5.com/news/child-sexual-exploitation-suspect-faced-prior-rape-charge (2020)
- https://whnt.com/18-arrested-in-tennessee-human-trafficking-investigation (2021)
- https://mainstreetmediatn.com/articles/mainstreetmaury/columbia-man-among-13-charged-in-human-trafficking-sting (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area: