Erwin, TN

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Erwin is a town of about 6,000 residents that serves as the government seat of Unicoi County, Tennessee. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented problems locally and throughout the region, and to address them, tactics used have included those targeting sex buyers. For example, in June 2021, seven men were arrested and charged in an Erwin human trafficking operation and were accused of seeking sex from minors, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The two-day undercover operation including special agents with the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, the Erwin Police Department, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Jonesborough Police Department, and the office of 1st District Attorney General. As part of an undercover investigation aimed at addressing human trafficking in East Tennessee, authorities put several decoy ads on websites which were known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases in an attempt to identify individuals looking to solicit commercial sex from minors. The identities of arrested men were included in news releases. In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Erwin Police Department reported that they have also implemented public education and IT-based tactics (both beginning 2021). They also said that they have arrested female sex buyers on at least one occasion.


Key Partners

  • Erwin Police Department
  • Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jonesborough Police Department
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Office
  • TBI Human Trafficking Unit
  • Office of 1st District Attorney General
State Tennessee
Type City
Population 5994
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