Trial Proves Human Trafficking Can Happen Anywhere

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -Less than a year after his arrest, a man was tried and convicted on human trafficking charges in Williamson County.

The trial was the first of its kind in the county.

Police are calling last week’s trial an eye-opening case. It shows that human trafficking can happen to anyone or anywhere.

Officers said it’s not happening the way most people think.

There are disturbing images of a woman sold for sex. The ad was found on backpage.com. The trafficker, Eric DeMarco Hamilton, was convicted for the crime.

“That’s exactly what we want to see happen, a judge who gets it, an attorney who understands the law, a victim who gets the care she needs and that she has the courage to speak up and testify,” said Derri Smith, who worked for End Slavery Tennessee and helped the 22-year-old victim after Hamilton’s arrest.

Hamilton brought her to the Extended Stay America Hotel on Church Street in Brentwood to perform sex acts.

Brentwood police said she was kidnapped from a hotel in Arkansas on April 1, 2016, and forced to be a sex slave for the next 10 days.

“The girl, in this case, looks like the girl next door,” said Smith. “I think we need to get our heads out of the sand and not think it’s not happening in our zip code, that it couldn’t happen to our child.”

While at the hotel, Hamilton beat the victim.

She was able to escape to the lobby where a worker called police.

Investigators said sex trafficking often happens in hotels, and not on the streets.

“Sometimes the trafficker even has them sing for the room, and you’ll see men coming and going out of the room. That’s going to be a pretty clear sign,” said Smith. “I also think housekeeping and hotel staff have a perfect opportunity to notice what’s going on.”

Detectives discovered phone records detailing meet ups and incriminating search history, proving predators lurk in all zip codes.

“Exploiters are looking for any kind of vulnerability, and every teen girl has them,” said Smith.

The victim, in this case, grew up in a good home. Police said she became isolated from her family, and that was all it took.

Brentwood police said traffickers target specific people, including heroin addicts.

Hamilton will be sentenced in Williamson County on June 1.