Ten Arrested In Prostitution Sting

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - Prostitution in Knoxville has felt the heat both from the weather and police. A Thursday night sting landed ten people in handcuffs. All charged with prostitution.

The sting focused in East Knoxville, mainly the Magnolia Avenue area. Nearly 20 charges have been filed. Several also for drug possession.

Police say that sting wasn't the first time most of the people faced prostitution charges.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy's rode along with KPD Friday afternoon. He has more on what police call a vicious cycle.

Police say it's partly because the punishment isn't too harsh, partly because some have to support illegal habits, like drugs.

"They're nasty. They look terrible," barber Tiko Gwinn said.

And barber Tiko Gwinn says prostitutes are everywhere.

"It bothers me a lot because I try to make it safe around here for everybody to come," Gwinn said.

For at least the last three years, he says they've walked the streets outside his East Magnolia Avenue shop morning and night.

"I just run them off. Tell them to take it down the street somewhere," Gwinn said.

Down the street where Sgt. David Powell hopes to catch them.

"It's battle that we constantly fight," Powell said.

And a Thursday night sting in East Knoxville made some headway. KPD cuffed nine women and one man. All charged with prostitution. For most it's not the first time.

"We get into a vicious cycle of just occurring over and over," Powell said.

Because on Tennessee streets illegal sex is a misdemeanor.

"You pay your dues, you pay whatever time you have to spend in jail, then you're back on the street," Powell said.

But not Friday afternoon, at least that we found.

"The heat probably has a lot to do with it," Powell said.

Both from the summer sun and police cruisers. And they're not just after the girls walking up to the cars. They're getting the guys pulling up, looking for the action.

"Each time they make a prostitution deal or pay the prostitute then all it does is further the drug problems or criminal elements," Powell said.

Both problems neighbors want out.

"They're disgracing the women these days that are actually trying to work and get a job and make it the hard way," neighbor Tamara Clark said.

Gwinn wants the streets as clean as his cuts.

"I hope they get it under control," Gwinn said.

And away from his customers. KPD says part of the problem with prostitution is that it doesn't go away. A crackdown just moves it to another part of the city, then comes back.

KPD says officers will keep doing stings about every two weeks.

The fine for prostitution is $50, plus tack on any court costs.

The ten arrested will appear in court on August 20th.


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