Cracking down on sex traffickers - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Cracking down on sex traffickers

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

They are women, who by choice, chance or circumstance, with every day, month or year that passes, move further away from ever finding their "Mr. Right" and ever closer to their enslavement by "Mr. Wrong."

Even as Terrence "T-Rex" Yarbrough, her abusive pimp and the father of her four children was led away to prison after being convicted by a federal jury on 10 counts of sex trafficking, you had the feeling Memphian Grace Harris still couldn't trust herself to exhale in relief. By testifying along with other women Yarbrough had victimized, Harris was forced to relive what had become her life of human degradation.

Yarbrough's conviction marked another triumph for the federal Civil Rights Task Force in of the few in the country that's focused on human trafficking. A business, federal nationwide authorities estimate could earn ruthless high-volume pimps such as Yarbrough, between 500-thousand to a million dollars a year. While the feds are stepping up their efforts, we wondered if the Memphis Police Department was as eager to crack down on participants in the flesh peddling trade in the Bluff City?

MPD Director Toney Armstrong notes that this has always been a problem, but now it seems worse than ever.  What's worse, perpetrators are usually released shortly after their arrest.

Arrests and prosecutions of pimp kingpins do often prove to be difficult. Getting one of their victims, sometimes enslaved by their own family members, to tell authorities about their abuse opens up their own lives to a scrutiny they're not willing to undergo.

US District Attorney Edward Stanton III says that while victims may have other issues going on in their lives, its worth noting that "…no one is above the law, and no one is below it".

Stanton says its important for victims to speak up, otherwise the problem will never be corrected.

It makes you many victims of sex-trafficking...are fearfully waiting for that moment...when they can finally exhale.

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