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ICE HSI, Joint Law Enforcement Operation Leads to Multiple Human Trafficking Arrests and Seizures

The focus of the operation was to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors.

A two-day undercover local, state and federal law enforcement operation resulted in the arrest of nine individuals, the seizure of six weapons and nine vehicles, as well as thousands of dollars in cash and illicit drugs.

This investigation was conducted by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit, Memphis Police Department, FBI, and office of the 30th Judicial District Attorney General.

“HSI Nashville proudly works with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in the fight against human trafficking,” said Special Agent in Charge Jerry C. Templet, Jr. “Removing these predators and bringing justice to victims is necessary and important work. Additionally, like the results of this operation, these investigations often lead to the discovery of other illegal activities and seizure of ill-gotten gains.”

The undercover investigation, aimed at addressing human trafficking in the Memphis area, began on January 21. Undercover officers placed decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex. The focus of the operation was to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. As a result, the following nine men were arrested and booked into the Shelby County Jail.

  • Nathan Durham, 46, of Memphis, Tennessee, is being held on a $15,000 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts, one count of possession with intent (marijuana), three counts of unlawful possession of a weapon, and three counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony.
  • Doubse Edwards, 55, of Memphis, Tennessee, is being held on a $40,000 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts, one count of possession with intent (cocaine), and one count of felony possession of methamphetamine.
  • Cortez Holloway, 31, of Memphis, Tennessee, is being held on a $5000 bond, charged with one count of promoting prostitution.
  • Lironda Knighten, 26, of Marion, Arkansas, is being held on a $20,000 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts, one count of possession with intent (marijuana), one count of unlawful possession of a weapon, and one count of possession of a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony.
  • Mark Pitts, 48, of Forrest City, Arkansas, is being held on a $10,000 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • Thomas Riedmaier, 67, of Gibsonburg, Ohio, is being held on a $7500 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • Steven Scroggins, 37, of Portland, Arkansas, is being held on a $30,000 bond, charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts and one count of felony possession of methamphetamine.
  • Patrick Watt, 55, of Memphis, Tennessee, is being held on a $15,000 bond, charged with one count of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • Anthony Wolfe, 52, of Horn Lake, Mississippi, is being held on a $15,000 bond, charged with one count of trafficking for commercial sex acts.

Part of the operation also focused on identifying potential victims of human trafficking. As a result, several women were referred for services.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of DHS, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

If someone believes trafficking may be occurring, they should not approach the potential suspect or victim(s). For the safety of the public and the victim(s), suspicious activity should first be reported to local law enforcement. Tips can also be submitted anonymously online at ice.gov/tipline, or by phone at 866-347-2423.

Read more at ICE

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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