GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — A two-day operation led to the arrest of seven men who are accused of seeking sex from minors, according to the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
A release from the sheriff’s department reveals that the following men face sex trafficking charges after the undercover operation:
- William E. Marx, 48, Greeneville — trafficking for commercial sex act
- Joseph H. Vincent, 72, Greeneville — trafficking for commercial sex act
- Samuel E. Foksha, 22, Inman, SC. — trafficking for commercial sex act
- John W. Blackwood, 54, Georgetown, SC. — trafficking for commercial sex act
- Charles L. Hunter, 75, Burnsville, NC. — trafficking for commercial sex act
- Jacquez M. Carr, 23, Thomasville, GA. — trafficking for commercial sex act
- Edwin Garcia Gonzalez, 32, Knoxville — two counts of trafficking for commercial sex act
Their mugshots are available below:
Several law enforcement agencies teamed up throughout the investigation, including the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and the Moshiem Police Department.
Authorities placed multiple decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution, the release states. The operation’s focus was to identify those who sought sex with minors.
“This operation has been several months in the planning,” said Greene County Sheriff Wesley Holt. “I am pleased with the results but disturbed that we have a problem to deal with in our society and in our community. We’re not going to let these predators prey on our children”
Holt told News Channel 11 the sting operation took months of preparation. It involved attracting the men to a specific location.
Jeremy Lofquest is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Human Trafficking Unit.
He said the department had received over 1,000 human trafficking tips so far this year, and that number is about 30 percent higher than last year’s tip count.
“Unfortunately, it’s very common,” Lofquest said. “What we’ve found is it doesn’t matter if we’re in a metro area or a more rural area like Greene County.”
Lofquest said it is impossible to pinpoint an exact number on exactly how many individuals are being trafficked in Tennessee.
To keep their children safe online, Lofquest said parents need to be diligent about their children’s online usage.
“You’ve got to be a parent and have some oversight in what your kids are doing,” Lofquest said. “Especially with mobile devices. Having a way to see what apps, what websites they’re using.”
More information regarding the TBI’s mission to address the human trafficking crisis can be found HERE.