10 Indicted In Putnam County Human Trafficking Operation

Thursday, May 17, 2018

An undercover human trafficking operation conducted by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Office of the 13th District Attorney General, Cookeville Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, and Homeland Security Investigations has resulted in the arrest of 10 men facing felony charges in a targeted effort to identify individuals attempting to purchase illicit sex from minors.

“With each similar operation we conduct, we want to send the same message; that we will not tolerate the sexual exploitation of any person in our community,” said TBI Acting Director Jason Locke. “This is a demand-driven crime, involving men from all kinds of backgrounds. As a state, Tennessee has led the fight to see to it that no child or adult falls victim to these sexual predators.”

The operation began in Cookeville on Feb. 15 and continued through Feb. 17. The operational focus was on individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with females under the age of 18, and those engaged in trafficking others for commercial sex acts. For all three days of the operation, advertisements were placed in the "Women Seeking Men" section of backpage.com, and two female TBI agents posted as individuals offering sex on that site. During the course of the resulting text or phone conversations, the agents identified themselves as being 14 to 17 years old. A total of 10 men, from college students, to a mail carrier, to a landscaping company owner, traveled to the location to meet for the purpose of illicit sex from a female they believed to be a minor.

“As significant as these arrests are, we are only scratching the surface,” said Cookeville Police Chief Randy Evans. “It is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant, and pursue and prosecute human trafficking across the state, as we all continue to battle this heinous crime.”  

In the course of the three-day operation, men using 697 unique phone numbers responded to the ads that were posted online, seeking to purchase illicit sex. The total number of contacts, such as text messages and calls, was 5,211. Some of the conversations between these men and undercover agents continued after they learned they were chatting with someone they believed to be a minor. During the operation, agents and intelligence analysts also gathered information in an effort to identify and recover potential victims of human trafficking.

“I am pleased that this investigation was successful,” said 13th District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway. “At the same time, I find it disturbing and tragic that there is even a need to conduct such an investigation in our community. The District Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to be proactive in the fight to protect child victims and to expose and hold accountable those who prey on them.” 

Putnam County Sheriff Eddie Farris agreed. “Human trafficking and exploitation of children and young adults has no place in our community. I want our citizens to know that we take every threat to their safety seriously. Our agency will always work with law enforcement partners to help eliminate human trafficking from occurring.”

This is the 13th time the TBI has worked with partner law enforcement agencies across the state to help identify, investigate and prosecute trafficking. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI’s efforts in Tennessee said, “For almost three years now, ICE/HSI has partnered with TBI and agencies across Tennessee to combat this heinous form of modern-day slavery.  Individuals seeking to exploit victims of sex trafficking need to realize that law enforcement across Tennessee is unified and will aggressively investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.  We also stand ready to protect and assist any victims that we are able to rescue as part of these operations.”

On May 8, the Putnam County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging 10 individuals in connection with this operation. Eight of those men had been taken into custody:

Kenneth Hobbs (DOB 09/29/1966, Dunlap):  One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class B Felony)

Lance Hatmaker (DOB 12/06/1987, Carthage): One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class A Felony)

Matthew Kenty (DOB 06/24/1999, Birmingham, AL): One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class B Felony)

Nicanor Baraiac (DOB 02/15/1976, Lenoir City): One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class A Felony)

Nathaniel Stalnaker (DOB 05/04/1999, Cookeville):  One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class A Felony)

Justin Adcock (DOB 02/13/1990, Algood):  One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class A Felony)

Daniel Baltazar (DOB 07/16/1983, Cookeville): One count Patronizing Prositution (Class B Felony)

Marcus Clark (DOB 07/27/1999, Monroe): One count Patronizing Prostitution (Class A Felony)



Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BLACKWELL, PAIGE DESHAI  3212 DODSON AVE CHATTANOOGA, 37406  Age at Arrest: 20 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRUGS GENERAL CATEGORY FOR RESALE LIGHT LAW VIOLATION --- BOSTIC, TERRANCE LEBRON  2717 ROSSVILLE BLVD, APT 317 CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 39 years ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Aug. 10-16

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Aug. 10-16: 08-10-18 Dareaux Alexander King, 23, of 5 Walter Street, Flat Rock, MI arrested on charges of possession of marijuana and drinking and disorderly. Luke Vandame Bryson, 22, of Ellis Road, Rossville arrested on an outstanding warrant. Dylan Cole Lockwood, 20, of 300 Spring Street Drive, Dickson, TN arrested on ... (click for more)

Use Purse Building For Chattanooga Museum Of History And Industry

I was caught off-guard and pleasantly stoked by Eric Atkins' editorial on Chattanoogan.com last week suggesting that one of the soon-to-be surplused city buildings could be turned into a history museum.   I didn't think anyone other than myself that I didn't know cared, or at least would turn their thoughts into the topic of an editorial.  I believe that most of the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: One Person Every Hour

After the first weekend in August, the United States was shaken to its core as every major media outlet reported that 67 people had been shot in Chicago, 12 of them dead in the senseless carnage. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel pleaded for calm and announced an additional 600 police officers would join other law enforcement in the five most troubled districts. This past weekend, which ... (click for more)

GPS Rallies To Clip CCS In Volleyball

There’s nothing quite like the jitters and general nervousness that goes along with playing in front of the home crowd for the first time. Add to that the pressure of making a good impression on a new coach and you can see what the GPS volleyball team was going through Monday evening. Despite all the outside factors and the fact GPS was facing undefeated Chattanooga Christians, ... (click for more)

Grace Rides Momentum To Win Over Lady Bucs

Volleyball games are often times hinged on one single point late in a match.   Monday  night, however, in a hard-fought battle between Division II Class A East foes Grace Baptist Academy and Boyd-Buchanan the turning point happened early in the second game in what eventually became a 3-1 (22-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16) victory for the visiting Lady Eagles. ... (click for more)