A human trafficking operation carried out by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations netted five arrests in Kentucky and Tennessee, officials stated on March 9.
In the sting, Lewis R. Harris, 52, of Memphis, Tennessee, was charged with two counts of trafficking for a commercial sex act and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, ICE stated.
Others who were arrested include Kevin L. Jackson, 31, of Paducah, Kentucky, who was charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act; Abraham M. Labastida, 28, of Murray, Kentucky, who charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act; Shannon L. Palmer, 44, of Union City, Tennessee, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act; and Eddie R. Robbins, 54, of Paris, Tennessee, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act along with other charges, according to the agency in a news release.
The five were booked into the Obion County Jail in Union City, Tennessee, and a $10,000 bond was set for each, officials said.
The nature of the operation wasn’t disclosed in the ICE news release.
“Human traffickers use diverse forms of force, fraud and coercion to control and exploit their victims,” ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet Jr. said in a statement.
He added that “early recognition of human trafficking can help save victims’ lives.”
“Our agents work with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate human trafficking cases, assist the victims and arrest the perpetrators. As a result of our efforts, human trafficking arrests for HSI Nashville, which covers the entire states of Tennessee and Kentucky, increased approximately 23 percent for fiscal year 2020 from the previous year,” Templet said.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Marshals Service and other law enforcement agencies announced the recovery of 150 missing children in Tennessee.
“Many people don’t realize this but hundreds of children go missing in our state every month,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director David Rausch said in a statement. “From runaways that may leave their home out of desperation or despair, to those entangled in a custody battle, every single one of them deserves a fighting chance, and that’s why they also deserve our best work to help them.”
According to the agency, most of the 150 children recovered will receive services from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, which might mean they are placed in foster homes or group homes, or get other care.