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Jackson is a city of about 68,000 residents in western Tennessee, situated along Interstate 40. Residents, neighborhood organizations, and law enforcement have identified prostitution as a substantial problem in the city, and sex trafficking has occurred in the city. For example, in December 2018, a man received a 20-year sentence and was required to pay more than $30,000 in fines for convictions of sex trafficking and promoting prostitution. A grand jury found the man guilty of one count of trafficking for a commercial sex act and two counts of promoting prostitution. He had been arrested in Jackson in October 2017 after two women came forward claiming that he was forcing them into prostitution. The judge found the defendant to have used the women in prostitution for his benefit, collecting any money they received for performing sexual acts.
To address consumer-level demand driving the prostitution market, the Jackson Police Department has conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 2007, if not earlier. The identities of arrested sex buyers have been released to the media, and arrestees have been required to perform community service. In June 2015, media outlets reported that at least two male sex buyers had been arrested during a web-based reverse sting in Jackson. The men reportedly arranged to meet with a female undercover officer at a Jackson hotel in January 2015, and “provided money for sex when [they] arrived.” Both allegedly engaged the decoy through a website known for prostitution, during a joint “operation targeting prostitution sales” by the JPD, Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tennessee Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. Their names and arrest photos were publicized in press. In August 2019, the JPD conducted a web-based reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of at least six sex buyers. The names and other identifiers of the arrested men were included in press releases. In August 2021, eleven men were arrested and charged with seeking to sexually abuse minors after an undercover operation in Jackson. The two-day human trafficking investigation placed decoy ads on websites that the TBI said were known to be linked to prostitution cases; the focus of the operation was to identify those seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors and recover potential victims of human trafficking. The 11 men were booked into the Madison County or Chester County Jail.
In June 2023, an undercover operation conducted by special agents with the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force, Jackson Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office 26th Judicial Drug Task Force, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security resulted in the arrest of six individuals accused of seeking to sexually exploit minors. The two-day operation, called “Operation Summer Special,” was aimed at addressing sex trafficking in western Tennessee, and involved undercover agents placing decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution. Six men were arrested and booked into the Madison County Jail on charges of solicitation of a minor, soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, and trafficking for a commercial sex act. The men’s names and arrest photos were released to the press. This was the sixth operation conducted by TBI special agents and other law enforcement partners in 2023. The press release said that nine similar operations were conducted across the state in 2022, and 13 in 2021.
- Jackson Police Department
- Madison County Sheriff’s Office
- Tennessee Internet Crimes against Children Task Force
- Madison County Circuit Court
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “15 Picked Up in Prostitution Sting”, Jackson Sun, August 12 2008.
- “Neighbors Say Prostitution Stings Help”, Jackson Sun, October 18 2008.
- “Seven Arrested During Jackson Police Prostitution Sting”, Jackson Crime Examiner, August 12 2012.
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Man Accused of Using Website to Try to Hire Prostitute,” ABC/WBBJ-TV 7, June 4 2015.
- “Man Charged in January Prostitution Arrest,” Jackson Sun, June 4 2015.
- “Man Charged with Solicitation,” Jackson Sun, June 9 2015.
- “Man in Court on Charge from Jackson Prostitution Sting,” ABC/WBBJ-TV 7, July 21 2015.
- https://www.wbbjtv.com/jackson-police-make-multiple-arrests-in-weekend-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/crime/jackson-madison-county-prostitution-sting-nets-16-arrests-narcotics-drug-weapon-charges (2019)
- https://www.fox13memphis.com/11-arrested-west-tennessee-human-trafficking-bust-tbi-says (2021)
- https://www.wbbjtv.com/11-arrested-in-two-day-human-trafficking-operation (2021)
- https://tbinewsroom.com/eleven-men-arrested-charged-in-jackson-human-trafficking-operation (2021)
- https://tbinewsroom.com/arrests-in-multi-agency-west-tennessee-human-trafficking-operation (2023)
- https://www.wbbjtv.com/undercover-operation-leads-to-arrest-of-6-men (2023)
- https://www.fox13memphis.com/news/11-arrested-in-west-tennessee-human-trafficking-bust-tbi-says (2023)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “9 Accused of Prostitution”, Jackson Sun, September 27 2008.
- “Police Arrest 10 in Friday Prostitution Sting”, Jackson Sun, September 28 2008.
- https://www.wbbjtv.com/2-women-charged-prostitution-undercover-operation (2018)
- https://www.jacksonsun.com/convicted-sex-trafficker-receives-20-year-sentence-madison-county (2018)