NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – For the first weekend of August, all roads lead to Nashville.
Racing returns to Nashville in the form of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. The festivities kicked off Friday afternoon, with thousands of people expected to pour in.
“Nashville has a new reputation of being an ‘it city’ in the southeast,” said Mary Trapnell, the executive director of the Nashville Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition.
The fast cars are attracting many to Music City, but Trapnell’s team worries big events like this can come with a high risk of criminal activity taking place.
“We have a lot of exciting, wonderful things that are going on in our city and we’re so proud of it. For that same reason though, traffickers know it’s a great place to come in and set up shop,” Trapnell explained.
On Friday, the Metro Nashville Police Department tweeted out photos as the department explained its partnership with the Tennessee Highway Patrol to cut down on aggressive driving and watching out for street racers.
Oftentimes, other crimes can be linked to sex and human trafficking.
“So, we already know that the traffickers are here and they’re bringing lots of their women who they have prepped and prepared for services, and they will work these girls all night and all day,” said Trapnell.
Trapnell and her team are always prepared to help, but they are especially on high alert when events bring a high number of people into town.
“We have a big effort this year in rolling out our ‘Educate to Recognize Program’ that is geared at educating families, and our most vulnerable in our community. We know those are children from middle school and high school age, and we want everyone in our community to be able to recognize the signs that someone’s being trafficked,” Trapnell described.
This week, the FBI announced they identified and located 200 victims of sex trafficking nationwide. “Operation Cross Country” led to the identification or arrest of 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses, and 68 suspects of trafficking were identified or arrested.
The FBI and its partners located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 59 actively missing children during its two-week operation in July.
Warning signs to look out for include:
- Someone whose avoiding law enforcement or social interaction
- Someone lingering around and watching
- Signs of drug use
- Rehearsed responses