The organization in Nashville is working to combat human trafficking, 128 rescued last year

Nashville, Tennessee (WKRN) – This is a crime that happens every day and is often overlooked or unrecognized. Authorities say the number of crimes of human trafficking is staggering, although the true extent of the actual death toll is unknown.

“I think most people, because of some of the movies that came out, expect it to be this big kidnapping, grabbing and grabbing, when unfortunately most of the time the trafficker is a trusted friend until the girl realizes what’s going on.” said Mary Trapnell, founder and executive director of the Coalition to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings in Nashville.

Trapnell’s job is to look and really see the problem, to intervene and lend a hand to those who have a glimmer of hope to get out of the traffic situation.

“We did 128 rescues and interventions last year,” Trappenle said, noting only locally.

The Nashville Anti-Trafficking Coalition is helping families in Tennessee. The organization even goes on to travel to another state to help a family in need. For example, Trapnell explained that it is common for a family in Tennessee to want to get their loved one out of a trafficking situation in another state. In these cases, the team will travel there and based on the GPS of a mobile phone provided by the family, will be able to find a loved one in the hope of bringing him home safely.

Trapnell has seen women and teenagers in every aspect of the trafficking industry, but says the problem, unfortunately, is not improving.

“The great thing about Nashville is that we have an economic boom in this region, really in this part of the country, but unfortunately with the money comes the traffic, because it’s a business,” said Trapnell.

She explained that it is becoming particularly difficult to sustain growing demand as the Internet serves as another way to carry out these illegal transactions. Web addresses can easily become a place for predators.

“This industry is growing, and in part because of the Internet, it’s easy to book girls and it’s easy for girls and traffickers to book and make girls available, and that’s increasing the demand for services,” Trapnell said.

Last year, the Tennessee Department of Human Trafficking investigated 13 undercover operations across the state. So far this year, TBI has made 26 arrests when it comes to human trafficking operations.

“We are seeing a growing trend of girls growing up in affluent homes and perhaps in a private school or church benches, which unfortunately are open and lured by traffickers through divorce, sexual violence and certain vulnerabilities,” Trapnell said.

However, the organization has less secret weapons against human trafficking. They are called “thriving” and are used to describe women who are now thriving in life after being trafficked. Now they use their experience to meet others face to face in their reality and to serve as a glimmer of hope for what life might be like.

“It’s big business and they’re a commodity,” Trapnell said. “It’s a test of the reality of this. I’ve been there, I’ve been through it, I know what you’re going through, and there’s hope.”

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There are several ways to report human trafficking if you see it. You can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline at 888-373-7888. You can also call your local FBI office or send anonymous advice to TIPS.FBI.gov.

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