A Dozen Men Arrested in Tennessee Undercover Operation to Stop Human Trafficking

By Christopher Burroughs
Christopher Burroughs
Christopher Burroughs
Christopher Burroughs reports on breaking news for The Epoch Times.
October 19, 2021 Updated: October 19, 2021

An undercover operation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, resulted in the arrests of 12 men for allegedly seeking illicit sex from minors.

The operation included Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Human Trafficking Unit, the Murfreesboro Police Department, the Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force, and the office of the 16th Judicial District Attorney General.

“HSI is proud to have partnered with our state and local partners in this successful human trafficking operation involving multiple arrests,” HSI Nashville Special Agent in Charge Jerry Templet Jr. said in a statement.

“Using our victim centered approach to these types of investigations, HSI will continue to target and investigate individuals and networks that engage in crimes that target our most vulnerable populations,” he added.

The ICE statement reported that for a two-day period beginning Oct. 13, the investigators placed several decoy advertisements on websites linked to “prostitution and commercial sex cases.”

The arrested included 12 men, ranging in ages from 22 to 59, according to the arrest report. The suspects were arrested and booked in the Rutherford Country Jail.

Those arrested and booked included Terrance Deshun Becton, 27, of Mason; Edilberto Nataren-Aguilar, 32, of Murfreesboro; Colin Patrick Hamilton, 26, of Tullahoma; Javier Urbina Leija, 31, of Smyrna; Alasfour Abdullah Hassan, 22, of Murfreesboro; John Darrell Schulze, 59, of Murfreesboro; Garrett Robert Zabloudil, 41, of China Grove, North Carolina; Edward Pope, 32, of Murfreesboro; Lucas Javier Diaz-Hernandez, 23, of Murfreesboro; Francisco Ruiz-Diaz, 29, of Murfreesboro; Michael Lee Sovern, 20, of Smithville; and William DeJesus Morales-Garcia, 46, of Murfreesboro.

A September undercover investigation also resulted in seven men being arrested in Cookeville, Tennessee, following a similar approach in another part of Middle Tennessee.

An August undercover operation in Jackson, Tennessee, netted 11 men being arrested who were accused of seeking illicit sex from minors. One man arrested who was 78 years old was charged with patronizing prostitution of a minor.

“The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is committed to understanding and fighting Human Trafficking,” the agency reported.

“Our state has consistently been ranked among the best in the nation for its approach to this crime, as a growing number of advocates—from law enforcement to nonprofits to government agencies—have stepped up to play a part in the solution.”

The operation occurred during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The campaign is an effort to increase the protection of children from online exploitation.

Christopher Burroughs reports on breaking news for The Epoch Times.