A Sweetwater resident was one of several men arrested Friday during an undercover operation targeting sex trafficking, for reportedly attempting to solicit sex with minors.
Upendrakumar S. Patel, 36, Telford Road, was arrested at 10:14 p.m. July 19 after responding to decoy ads placed on several websites linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases, according to Leslie Earhart, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Patel was charged with two counts of trafficking a minor for a commercial act. He was being held Monday on a $1 million bond pending a hearing Monday in front of Judge William Brewer in Blount County General Sessions Court.
Two other men, Aaron Darrell Fomby, 28, of Detroit, Michigan, and Orlando Moreno-Martinez, 38, of Knoxville, each face one count of trafficking a minor for a sex act.
Both men were being held on $500,000 bonds on Monday.
Blount Conty Sheriff’s booking records show Patel, Fomby and Moreno-Martinez all were arrested at the La Quinta Inn, 126 Cusick Road, Alcoa, early afternoon and late evening on July 19.
Prosecutors rescheduled hearings for the three men for 1:30 p.m. July 29.
Patel initially was assigned a court-appointed attorney but chose to hire private counsel, according to Blount County Assistant District Attorney Ryan Desmond.
A fourth man, Donald Wayne Turner, 45, Knoxville, was arrested on July 20 and charged with promoting prostitution.
He was released Sunday on a $6,000 bond pending a 1:30 p.m. hearing July 29 in Blount County General Sessions Court.
TBI led the investigation, which included members of the Alcoa and Maryville Police departments and the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force.
It targeted individuals who attempted to solicit girls younger than 18, along with adult prostitutes.
The investigation is ongoing, Earhart said.