MEMPHIS, Tenn. — 10 people were arrested after Memphis Police and Tennessee Bureau of Investigations created a joint sting operation for human trafficking.
Officers said undercover agents were communicating through text messages posing as 16-year-old prostitutes. According to the affidavit, the suspects are Nathan Durham, Patrick Watt, Doubse Edwards, Lironda Knighten, Thomas Joseph, Mark Pitts, Steven Scroggins, Chelsea Bandy, Anthony Wolfe and Cortez Holloway.
All suspects agreed to meet with the undercover agents, who they believed to be 16-year-olds at a hotel in the 50th block of Harbor Town Square, according to court documents. The incidents happened throughout two days starting on Jan. 21.
According to MPD, Joseph, 66, agreed to meet with a 16-year-old after responding to an online advertisement from an undercover agent. The detective gave Joseph an address and room number to meet and exchange money for sexual services. He was arrested and taken into custody.
Police say that Durham, 46, and Edwards, 55, agreed to pay the “teenagers” $80 in exchange for sexual acts. According to court documents, detectives found three clear plastic bags on Edwards that contained cocaine, crack-cocaine, and meth.
Officers also found a clear plastic bag filled with 15 grams of marijuana on Durham, who also had three guns inside his car.
Watt, 55, allegedly asked one of the undercover agents to reveal parts of her body before he would pay her $80. After he was arrested and taken into custody, officers said he admitted to agreeing to meet with a 16-year-old for sexual acts.
MPD said Knighten, 26, was told by an undercover agent that she was 16 years old and still agreed to meet with her to have sexual contact for 30 minutes. Officers also told the agents that it was his birthday and he wanted to have sexual intercourse and smoke. When Knighten was arrested, officers found a plastic bag of marijuana and a brown tobacco cigar wrapper.
According to a TBI press release, Anthony Wolfe, 52, was charged with trafficking for commercial sex acts. While admitting that he agreed to meet with “teenagers,” he told officers he has used websites used for prostitution multiple times and said “I don’t usually do 16-year-olds.”
Steven Scroggins, 37, was charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts and one count of felony possession of meth after police said he admitted to texting “a teenager” and agreeing to pay them $100 for an hour of sexual acts. He also admitted that he had a bag of crystal meth on him.
Mark Pitts was charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts after police say he agreed to meet with a 16-year-old for sexual acts for $120.
Police say Chelsea Bandy, 21 was arrested for prostitution. During the operation, undercover detectives said Bandy was using a website for soliciting prostitution and advertising herself for sexual acts. The detective and Bandy agreed through text message that he would give Bandy $150 for sexual acts. She was dropped off at the agreed address where officers saw a black man, who they believe was Cortez Holloway in the vehicle.
Holloway, 31, parked in a parking spot when officers arrested him and took him into custody. Police say Holloway admitted to “setting and operating the deals for Bandy.” He is being charged with promoting prostitution.
The TBI says six weapons and nine vehicles were also seized as well as thousands of dollars in cash and drugs.
All 10 suspects are expected to appear in court on Jan. 24.