UPDATE: The Memphis Police Department said Thursday that Starla Gunn has been found safe.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sex trafficking or human trafficking is a problem many think only lurks in the shadows, but many say this should be brought to the forefront.
The Memphis Police Department says one of the latest victims could be Starla Gunn. They believe she’s being sex trafficked in Texas.
MPD said that Gunn was reported missing from a house on North 4th Street in the Uptown community. A City Watch was issued on Tuesday.
Police said family members have not seen her for several weeks.
Tina Tatum is one of the founders of R3 The Movement, an anti-human trafficking and exploitation organization in the Mid-South. They work to educate the community and provide resources for anyone needing support.
“Human trafficking is probably the number one money making organized crime,” Tatum said. “Someone is exploited and utilized whether it is an adult or a child for personal gain and for financial gain, and we live in a world of greed and a world of exploitation all around us and we still see something unfortunately very much in the forefront.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says human trafficking is a global $150 billion industry, victimizing 25 million people through sex and forced labor.
MPD is hoping someone has seen Starla Gunn. She’s 20 years old, about 5-foot-2 and 125 pounds.
“We do live in a city where crime is on the rise, unfortunately. So, where there is an opportunity for crime and things of that nature, you’re going to see sex trafficking, sexual exploitation,” Tatum said.
Groups such R3 The Movement recommend that if you see something, say something to help put sex traffickers out of business.
“If you see an individual that you feel may be involved with that…just the fact to know that they’re seen and maybe you don’t want to get involved, but even the eye contact and reporting and letting your local law enforcement know,” Tatum said.
To report a tip or get help, you can contact the National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.
The Memphis Police Department is asking anyone with information about Starla Gunn’s whereabouts to call 901-545-2677 or MPD Missing Persons at 901-636-4479.