Memphis human trafficking sting nets 9 arrests

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nine men are facing human trafficking-related charges after Memphis authorities teamed up with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation targeting the Mid-South.

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As part of the sting, undercover officers posed as underage prostitutes, communicating with the suspects via text messages, WHBQ-TV reported.

The nine men arrested include Nathan Durham, Doubse Edwards, Lironda Knighten, Cortez Holloway, Mark Pitts, Thomas Riedmaier, Steven Scroggins, Patrick Watt, and Anthony Wolfe. the TV station reported, citing arrest records.

Update 10:45 p.m. EST Jan. 23: The arrests of Holloway, Pitts, Scroggins and Wolfe were not included in initial reports. Details of their arrests have been added to the alphabetical list below.

Original report: According to WHBQ-TV, the Memphis Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the TBI Human Trafficking Task Force conducted the joint sex trafficking operation with the following results:

  • Durham, who is out on bond after his Friday arrest, is charged with two counts of trafficking for sexual servitude, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute or sell and unlawful possession of a firearm. He is accused of propositioning two undercover officers posing as 16-year-old prostitutes and is due in court Monday.
  • Edwards, who is out on bond after his Friday arrest, is charged with two counts of trafficking for a commercial sex act, possession of cocaine with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. In addition to allegedly propositioning two undercover agents posing as 16-year-old prostitutes, he was found in possession of cocaine, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as more than $4,000 in cash. Edwards is due in court Monday.
  • Knighten, who is out on bond after his Friday arrest, is charged with two counts of trafficking for sexual servitude, possessing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, unlawful possession of a weapon and manufacturing/delivering/selling a controlled substance. In addition to allegedly propositioning an undercover agent posing as a 16-year-old prostitute, he was found in possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a gun. Knighten is due in court Monday.
  • Holloway has been charged with one count of promoting prostitution.
  • Pitts has been charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sex acts.
  • Riedmaier, who was arrested Friday, is charged with one count of trafficking for solicitation of a minor and trafficking for sexual servitude after allegedly propositioning an undercover agent posing as a 16-year-old prostitute. He is due in court Monday.
  • Scroggins has been charged with two counts of trafficking for commercial sexual acts and one count of possession of methamphetamine.
  • Watt, who is out on bond after his Saturday arrest, is charged with trafficking for sexual servitude after allegedly propositioning two undercover agents posing as 16-year-old prostitutes. He is due in court Tuesday.
  • Wolfe has been charged with one count of trafficking for commercial sexual acts.

According to the TBI, a child is bought or sold for sex, on average, every two minutes in the United States. The bureau classified human trafficking as the second-fastest growing criminal industry nationwide, trailing only drug trafficking, and noted that the average age of a child sold for sex is 13.