Morristown man among seven charged in human  trafficking operation

A two-day undercover operation by special agents with the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, the Erwin Police Department, the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Jonesborough Police Department, and the office of 1st District Attorney General Ken Baldwin has resulted in the arrest of several men accused of seeking illicit sex from minors including a man from Morirstown.

Over a two-day period beginning June 9, as part of an undercover investigation aimed at addressing human trafficking in East Tennessee, authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases.

The focus of the operation was to identify individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. As a result of the operation, authorities arrested seven men and booked them into the Unicoi County Jail:

• Mark Daniel Higgins (DOB 1/31/62), Asheville, NC: Solicitation of a Minor by Electronic Means, Solicitation of a Minor

• Jeffrey Lynn Rhoney (DOB 5/8/60), Arden, NC: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts), Solicitation of a Minor (2 counts), Purchase of Alcohol for Someone Under 21

• Steven Charles Mayes (DOB 12/19/73), Morristown: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor

• Benjamin Bouchot Moreno (DOB 6/15/70), Asheville, NC: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act (2 counts),

Solicitation of a Minor(2 counts)

• Jose Raul Delgado Andrade (DOB 6/5/80), Johnson City: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor

• Alberto Vazquez Gonzalez (DOB 4/1/75), Bristol, VA: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor

• Randall Dale Staton (DOB 9/5/66), Bakersville, NC: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Solicitation of a Minor

Information about human trafficking and TBI’s efforts to address this type of crime can be found online at www.ITHasToStop.com.