An undercover sex trafficking sting operation led to 17 arrests and charges this week. According to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, the two-day sting found that 17 men agreed to pay to have sex with an undercover officer who pretended she was 16.
The local police operation was performed by the MNPD and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, with support from the Department of Homeland Security.
According to court documents, each man arrived at a hotel after replying to an Internet advertisement; the hotel was in the area of Royal Parkway and Donelson Pike in Nashville.
They went into the room and offered money to the undercover police officer in exchange for sex; each was charged with sex trafficking and trafficking for a commercial sex act.
Local police released the men’s identities yesterday:
- Chhatra Bhujel, 35, of Nashville
- Terrance Green, 41, of Smyrna
- Robert Ambrose, 63, of Bon Aqua
- Shontez Brown, 45, of Notasulga, Alabama
- Joshua Haines, 26, of Dowelltown
- Rex Payton, 49, of Lebanon
- Eleazar Ramirez, 35, of Smyrna
- Adolpho Ramirez, 38, of Crossville
- Barry Gardner, 35, of Nashville (also charged with cocaine and gun possession)
- Dwayne Small Jr., 23, of Nashville
- Jack Davenport, 24, of Nashville
- Jaykumar Patel, 21, of Murfreesboro
- Sourabh Verma, 37, of Franklin
- Michael Corsaro, 46, of Hendersonville
- Fredy Padilla, 36, of Nashville
- Byombe Issa, 30, of Bowling Green, Kentucky
- Abraham Sanchez, 30, of Clarksville
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or TBI has been running a public awareness campaign about sex and human trafficking to stop the illegal industry. The bureau reports that a child is bought or sold for sex every 120 seconds; the average age of each child sold for sex is just 13.
The name of the public advocacy campaign is It Has To Stop, and its website notes that slavery is still happening, with both women and men often being sold for sex. This happens in Tennessee and across the US.
Human trafficking reports are on the rise in Tennessee over the last five years; the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline got 900 calls in 2020 and 730 in 2019.
Other Tennesse Sex Trafficking Stings Led To Arrests in 2021
TBI also noted that another sex and human trafficking operation in early 2021 also led to several arrests.
The March 2021 undercover operation in East Tennessee was spearheaded by the human trafficking unit at TBI, as well as officers from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.
Several men were placed under arrest after allegedly soliciting sex from minors. In addition, TBI agents placed several fake ads on websites that are known to be connected to prostitution. This state operation led to nine arrests, and all of them were booked into the county jail.
TBI added that part of the sting operation was to help possible human trafficking victims; two adult women were found and provided with help through several social services agencies.
The men arrested were:
- Juan N. Gomez, 42, Knoxville: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act
- Alex E. Hickey,55,, Jefferson City: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts)
- Darron C. Hickman, 53, Knoxville: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Jose W. Salguero, 35, Maryville: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts)
- Michael J. Slover, 54, Oak Ridge: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts), Sexual Battery
- Jeremy R. Williams,35, Tellico Plains: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts)
- Joshua S. Wilson, 32, Oak Ridge: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts)
- Joshua D. Winningham, 26, Knoxville: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts), Soliciting Sexual, Exploitation of a Minor (2 counts)
- Michael J. Houck,54, of Concord, was charged with two counts of Patronizing Prostitution.
Another sting operation was done in early June 2021 in Tennessee in yet another sign that state and local police are cracking down on human and sex trafficking in the state.
This two-day operation occurred in the town of Erwin and led to seven arrests. The police also put several ads on Craig’s List and other sites connected, to commercial sex acts and prostitution.
The men arrested in this sting were identified as:
- Mark Daniel Higgins, 59, Asheville, N.C.: Solicitation of a Minor by Electronic Means, Solicitation of a Minor
- Jeffrey Lynn Rhoney, 61, Arden, N.C.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts), Solicitation of a Minor
- Steven Charles Mayes, 47, Morristown, Tenn.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor
- Benjamin Bouchot Moreno, 50, Asheville, N.C.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts), Solicitation of a Minor(2 counts)
- Jose Raul Delgado Andrade, 41, Johnson City, Tenn.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor
- Alberto Vazquez Gonzalez, 46, Bristol, Va.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor
- Randall Dale Staton, 54, Bakersville, N.C.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor
The police reported that the units involved included the human trafficking division at TBI, the Erwin TX PD, and the Washington County’s Sheriff’s Office.