UPDATE: TBI, Chattanooga police arrest 20 men after human trafficking sting
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Chattanooga Police Department are expected to outline the results of a four-day human trafficking operation in Chattanooga.
UPDATE: Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and officers from the Chattanooga Police Department arrested 20 men after running an undercover human trafficking sting that began in September.
Among those arrested and facing charges during “Operation Someone Like Me” were:
- Edward Didona, 55, Benton, TN
- Brian Burton, 34, Chattanooga, TN
- Christopher D. Frazier, 24, Chattanooga, TN
- Michael T. Roper, Sr, 43, Morristown, TN
- Jose Maldonado, 50, Dalton, GA
- Edward Javier Lopez Guardado, 33, Bowdon, GA
- Jorge Astrain, 20, Dalton, TN
- Abel Cervantes Zuniga, 38, Hixson, TN
- Robert Collins, 47, Athens, TN
- Detrick McFarlin, 28, Ailey, GA
- Donald Williams, 37, Old Fort, TN
- Courtney McKinley, 36, unknown
- Curtis Brown, 49, Ringgold, GA
- Cedric Ford, 25, Chattanooga
- Ralph Comer, 50, Blountville, AL
- Mario Morales, 32, Chattanooga
- Kenneth Langford, 42, Soddy Daisy, TN
- Luis Perez Ramos, 19, Dalton, GA
"Operation Someone Like Me" was conducted in Chattanooga during four days in September and October.
It marks the third such operation of its kind in the state between the TBI and partner agencies to help identify, investigate and prosecute trafficking and rescue victims.
READ MORE | End Slavery Tennessee website
The men included a painter an engineer a truck driver, a landscaper, a waiter, a student and a construction worker.
Twelve men were from Tennessee, seven from Georgia and one was from Alabama. Two of the men brought guns in their waistbands, and another man arrested had numerous credit cards in his possession along with a skimmer in his car which, was seized. The Secret Service was notified.
In a partnership of the Chattanooga Police Department, End Slavery Tennessee, and Second Life Chattanooga, TBI Agents and intelligence analysts embarked on an undercover operation to identify potential victims of trafficking, arrest customers seeking to purchase illicit sex and learn more about the specific nuances of this crime.
“The TBI has made this a priority,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “Lives are at stake at this very moment. We will be the agency – and the state – to do everything possible to make a difference.”
“As a former sex crimes detective, I know the disturbing effect crimes of this nature have on the victims involved,” said Chief of the Chattanooga Police Department Fred Fletcher. “Law-enforcement and service provider partnerships like this are vital to the safety and well-being of our city.”
PREVIOUS STORY: In a news conference Friday morning, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Chattanooga Police Department are expected to outline the results of a four-day human trafficking operation in Chattanooga.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Margie Quin and CPD Chief of Staff David Roddy will join Derri Smith, Founder & Executive Director, End Slavery Tennessee and Jerry Redman, CEO, Second Life, Chattanooga for the news conference.
Channel 3 will have a crew at the news conference and will be updating this developing story.