A two-day, undercover operation by law enforcement targeting Rutherford County has resulted in the arrests of 16 men accused of seeking sex from minors, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

To battle human trafficking in Rutherford County, authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to commercial sex over a two-day period starting Oct. 24, the TBI said. The focus of the operation was to identify people seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors.

Often in such stings, authorities place decoy ads and undercover agents discuss details with people who respond, and if the subjects show up at a meet-up location such as at a hotel, they are arrested. TBI Communications Director Josh DeVine said he could not confirm if that is how this sting was arranged.

Other participating agencies included the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, the Smyrna Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the office of 16th District Attorney General Jennings Jones, the TBI said.

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said in a statement, “Child trafficking is a very serious problem in the nation and a crime we take very seriously. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the investigation with our federal, state and county law enforcement partners.”

Information about human trafficking and TBI’s efforts to address this type of crime can be found online at ITHasToStop.com.

According to the TBI, the 16 suspects who were arrested and booked into Rutherford County Detention Center were:

  • James H. Farmer, 55, Franklin: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Deadrick Darrell Evans, 29, Murfreesboro: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Miguel Erazo, DOB 9-24-76, Antioch: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Luis Miguel Garcia-Alvarez, 43, La Vergne: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Paul Florez-Vazquez, 30, Nashville: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Jose Guadalupe Zarate-Flores, 39, Smyrna: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Taylor Moore, 23, Rombauer, Missouri: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Tony Maddox, 38, Cowan: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Gameel Mesad, 55, La Vergne: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • John Thomas Sulkowski, 24, Murfreesboro: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Juan Manuel Tovar, 47, Antioch: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Harry Garcia, 44, Murfreesboro: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Michael Romero, 31, Prospect: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Lian Sian Thang, 32, Smyrna: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Manasranjan Murlidhar Rana, 31, Nashville: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act
  • Diego Mancilla Martinez, 46, La Vergne: Trafficking a Person for a Commercial Sex Act

Recommended for you