Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) arrested 16 people connected to a human trafficking sting, according to multiple reports.
In a two-day event that began on Oct. 24, the TBI performed an undercover sting aimed at addressing human trafficking issues in Rutherford County, according to a news release. TBI investigators reportedly placed advertisement decoys on websites known to contain links for commercial sex.
According to the news release, the purpose of the undercover investigation was to identify the individuals who frequented the website that seek out minors to engage in sex acts. After two days of undercover investigation, TBI arrested 16 people found in connection with a human trafficking operation and booked them into the Rutherford County Jail.
The 16 people were James H. Farmer of Franklin, Deadrick Darrell Evans of Murfreesboro, Miguel Erazo of Antioch, Luis Miguel Garcia-Alvarez of La Vergne, Paul Florez-Vazquez of Nashville, Jose Guadalupe Zarate-Flores of Smyrna, Taylor Moore of Rombauer of Missouri, Tony Maddox of Cowan of Tennessee, Gameel Mesad of La Vergne, John Thomas Sulkowski of Murfreesboro, Juan Manuel Tovar of Antioch, Harry Garcia of Murfreesboro, Michael Romero of Prospect, Lian Sian Thang of Smyrna, Manasranjan Murlidhar Rana of Nashville, and Diego Mancilla Martinez of La Vergne.
All 16 were charged with trafficking a person for a commercial sex act, according to the news release.
In addition, TBI received help from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department of Smyrna, the FBI, and Homeland Security, according to the news release. The office of Jennings Jones, the 16th District Attorney, also participated in the investigation.
On July 22, according to Knox News, an undercover investigation that also focused on exposing human traffickers resulted in authorities arresting four people.
The four people were Aaron Fomby, 22, of Detroit, Michigan, Orlando Moreno-Martinez, 38, of Knoxville, Upen Patel, 36, of Sweetwater, and Donald Turner, 46, from Knoxville. According to the news outlet, Fomby and Moreno-Martinez were both charged with one count of trafficking a minor for a commercial act, and were both booked into the Blount County Jail and held on a $500,000 bond.
Sweetwater was arrested and charged with two counts of trafficking a minor for a commercial act, according to a news release issued by the TBI. He was held on a $1 million bond. Turner was charged with promoting prostitution and held on a $6,000 bond. Both were also booked into the Blount Country Jail.