Human trafficking arrests made in Bradley County

(BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn) – Four men were arrested for human trafficking in Bradley County.

Last night several agencies worked together to bring down a sex trafficking ring.

During the sting, authorities placed decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex acts.

The T-B-I says that Timothy Carter, Stephen Whited and Brian Hamler were all charged with one count of trafficking for commercial sex.

The fourth suspect Donald Thomas was charged with promoting prostitution and criminal impersonation.

Officials say this is not the first human trafficking situation in Bradley county.

According to Police, Cleveland can be a hub for human trafficking because of its close proximity to the interstate.

They want people to understand that it is every where, even in your small towns.

“Learn about it , learn about the signs, read about it people think human trafficking is happening only in other countries, unfortunately if we turn a blind eye to what’s going on we can’t help those who are in the threat of in the web of trafficking,” said Sgt. Evie West of Cleveland Police Department.

Police want you to be aware of your surroundings when out in town, and to be actively looking for the signs.

According to police signs can be anything from bruising, a young lady looking uncomfortable while being accompanied by an older man, or a stranger at a kids event.

Police want people to know that it isn’t just in the public anymore, traffickers are hunting young children through different types of online features posing as young children also.

“Being aware of what your children are involved in online is important whether it be through the internet, through an app, their phone, or even a computer being aware and taking steps to not just hold them accountable but also protect them,”said Adam Lewis, Director of Media for Bradley County Sheriff Office.

Officials say their number one priority is the victims and they will do what it takes to help these women get out of this situation.

Willowbend Farms is currently on a one year tour through Cleveland city schools and Bradley County schools educating SRO’s, counselors, educators, parents, and students on what human trafficking is and how to spot it within our community.

“What we need to do is not be fearful of it, but we need to take a stand against it. Say this is not welcome here,” said West.

Officials say charges are pending for additional arrests to be made.

Categories: Bradley County, Cleveland, Crime, Featured, Local News