42 arrested in TBI human trafficking sting operation

by: Jim Spiewak Updated:

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42 people were arrested in a human trafficking ring in Memphis. 

One of the accused is former MATA CEO, Ron Garrison, who abruptly retired Thursday citing ‘health reasons.”  


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They announced results from a human trafficking investigation conducted this week in Memphis. 

Garrison is charged with a misdemeanor for trying to have sex with an adult prostitute.  He did not answer when we knocked on his door Friday. 

Mayor Jim Strickland said, “I think he made the right decision to resign and the MATA board made the right decision to accept that resignation.” 

MATA sent a statement saying in part “this in no way diminishes the contributions of Mr. Garrison at MATA during his tenure over the last few years.” 

In all, 38 men and four women were arrested.  Eight people are charged with paying to have sex with a minor, some of the accused paid to have sex with minors as young as 14.  

The sting was officially called operation ‘Someone Like Me.’  475 men responded to ads for sex with undercover agents.  

Two juvenile female sex slave victims were saved in the sting.

>>MATA CEO resigns following arrest for patronizing a prostitute

>>MATA responds to CEO Ron Garrison's arrest, resignation 

List of those arrested for patronizing prostitution near a church or school: 

  • Ahmed Khalid, 26, Cordova
  • Juan Valdez, 34, Memphis
  • Melvin Garcia, 35, Unknown
  • Christian Esquivel, 26, Memphis
  • Efrain Aguilera, 26, Memphis
  • Terry Lewis, Jr., 29, Memphis
  • Ali Awad, 21, Cordova
  • Paul Palmer, Jr., 47, East Ridge, TN
  • Richard Hardin, 67, Memphis
  • Sam Lewis, 59, Memphis
  • Paul Roach, 49, Cordova
  • Bret Morris, 33, Bartlett 
  • James Walker, 50, Cordova
  • Mario Thomas, 41, Memphis
  • David Brumfield, 60, Collierville
  • Harrison Chung, 40, Garden Grove, CA
  • Milton Davis, 50, Arlington
  • Mark Berry, 44, Arlington
  • Robert Jackins, 52, Cordova
  • Benjamin Gilbert, 26, Cordova
  • Antonio Chacon, 32, Unknown
  • Keten Patel, 33, Memphis
  • Carl McKee, 31, Munford
  • Luis Fernando, 45, Memphis
  • Julio Perez, 20, Memphis
  • Marin Rykhlov, 39, Knoxville, TN
  • Basel Hasan, 18, Memphis
  • Catasia Williams, 26, Memphis
  • Mikael Farris, 35, Cordova
  • Emmi Easton, 20, Memphis
  • Darry Little, 53, Marion, AR
  • Hilario Vargas Lopez, 40, Memphis
  • Oscar Larios, 48, Memphis
  • Christopher Rodgers, 32, Braden, TN
  • Mitch Cooper, 43, Humboldt, TN
  • Nat-Matias Armando, 19, Memphis
  • Erin Shindler, 23, Bartlett
  • Shanqua Patrick, 23, Halls, TN
  • Isaiah Williams, 47, Memphis
  • Uriel Roblero, 23, Memphis 

Arrested for Trafficking Sexual Servitude, Possession of Crack Cocaine, Cocaine, Heroin, Oxycodone, Marijuana, Stolen Property under $500: 

  • Demario Davis, 30, Unknown

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said this was the largest human trafficking sting in Tennessee in the eight times they've done this since May of last year adding “the buyers ran the garment, it included a medical professional, an engineer a law student and a tow truck driver.” 

Federal ICE agents took seven accused traffickers and have already started the deportation process.

MATA’S full statement: 

As it relates to today’s announcement from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation regarding former MATA CEO Ron Garrison, this in no way diminishes the contributions of Mr. Garrison at MATA during his tenure over the last few years. MATA and its Board of Commissioners wishes him well in his future endeavors. But, our top priority as an organization is to remain committed to the number one task at hand and that is diligently serving the Memphis public and our customers by identifying dedicated funding sources and ensuring that public transit is a reliable option for the Memphis area. While the leadership may have changed at MATA, our commitment to our mission has not.

Nicole C. Lacey

Chief Communications Officer

Memphis Area Transit Authority/ Mid-South Transportation Management, Inc.

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