TBI: 4 arrested in Tennessee human trafficking investigation

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BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — Four men are facing charges after a human trafficking investigation.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the arrests were made during a two-day undercover operation involving the TBI’s Human Trafficking Unit, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, district attorney’s office, and Homeland Security Investigations.

According to the TBI, the following suspects were arrested:

  • Matthew David Bailey, 42, of Jonesborough: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
  • Kenneth Paul Kotowski, 49, of Bristol, TN: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
  • Ronnie Luther Gilliam, 63, of Duffield, VA: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor, Exploitation of a Minor
  • Michael William Alverson, 62, of Piney Flats: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
Sullivan County sex traffic
Michael Alverson, Ronnie Gilliam, Kenneth Kotowski, and Matthew Bailey. (Photos: TBI)

The TBI said the operation involved investigators placing several decoy advertisements on websites linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases. The investigation focused on identifying those looking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors.

“The primary purpose of this operation was to identify those who prey on children and, in turn, support those who traffick them,” Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said in a release. “I hope this collaborative effort with the TBI and District Attorney’s Office sends the message that we are always watching and will not tolerate those who victimize the most vulnerable in this community.”

All four suspects were booked into the Sullivan County Jail.

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