Sex trafficking of minors remains a dirty secret — and agents, officers and victims' supporters want to bring it into the light

ashville has a booming tourist trade, a robust economy, large-scale events that bring hundreds of thousands of new faces to town each year, and an enviable geographic position at the hub of multiple travel routes. Those factors make the city extremely enticing as a vacation and convention destination.

They also serve the needs of an industry that police, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and victims' support groups hope to repel.

In the state of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, dozens of minors are moved each month along networks of human trafficking. Estimates from various sources place the number as low as 65 and as high as 120. While the information won't appear on travel brochures, the city of Nashville is uniquely poised to become a larger stop on the trafficking circuit.

"Everything that makes Nashville a great place to live is also appealing to traffickers, who see this as a business," explains Derri Smith, executive director of End Slavery Tennessee, an organization founded in 2008 to strategically confront human trafficking in Tennessee. "We've got a thriving economy, a lot of growth, and a lot of tourists and events. That means people are coming in who might leave their morals at home, and that makes for buyers of sex."

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