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March 9, 2021Union City, TN, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Joint human trafficking operation results in 5 arrests

UNION CITY, Tenn. – A two-day joint undercover operation, aimed at individuals seeking commercial sex acts with minors, resulted in the arrest of five Tennessee and Kentucky residents.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Human Trafficking Unit, Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force, Obion County Sheriff’s Office, Union City Police Department and the 27th Judicial District Attorney General’s Office.

“Human traffickers use diverse forms of force, fraud and coercion to control and exploit their victims,” said HSI Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet, Jr. “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% for fiscal year 2020 from the previous year.”

The five men were booked into the Obion County Jail in Union City on state charges, where a $10,000 bond was set for each. They are:

  • Lewis R. Harris, 52, of Memphis, Tennessee, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor;
  • Kevin L. Jackson, 31, of Paducah, Kentucky, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act;
  • Abraham M. Labastida, 28, of Murray, Kentucky, 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, introduction of contraband into a penal institution and possession with the intent to manufacture, deliver or sell a schedule VI drug.

Suspicious activity can be submitted online at ice.gov/tipline, by phone at 866-DHS-2-ICE or by contacting your local HSI office.

Updated: 03/11/2021