Authorities: Recent human trafficking sting in Memphis is the biggest one yet statewide

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- More than 40 people were arrested in a three-day long human trafficking sting in Memphis, including former MATA CEO Ron Garrison.

Authorities from various agencies took part in the operation, which they said was the biggest one yet.

“The number of men who responded to our ads this week was staggering," said TBI Deputy Director Jason Locke.

For three days, TBI agents posed online as teenage and adult prostitutes in order to arrest men seeking those services. Approximately 475 people reached out to them.

“We’re seeing this issue in our urban areas. We’re seeing it in our rural areas and I think part of the reason is it’s gone on and unaddressed for so long," said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

It was the biggest sting of its kind in our state with more than 40 people arrested or cited in Memphis. Eight of them were seeking sex with minors and two of them were specifically expecting to have sex with 14 year olds.

“As a culture, we need to work toward changing the conversation about this crime because it centers on demand," said Gwyn.

The director told WREG it’s time for recovery.

They were able to help two girls from this sting and get them help.

"The women you see advertised online are people, not products.”

And for the women out there, they want them to know there’s a chance for a brighter future.

“Without options, they are far less likely, too scarred and too scared, to cooperate with law enforcement in prosecuting the perpetrators," said Restore Corps Executive Director Rachel Sumner Haaga.

Suspects they said they're going to continue fiercely going after.