Three people are in jail today for their alleged involvement in a prostitution operation that police say might be connected to human trafficking.
Early Thursday morning, police arrested Nashvillians Efren Guerra, 36, and Arnulfo Vasquez-Sanchez, 29, on charges of sex trafficking and promoting prostitution; and Maria Alarcon, 25, of Carpentersville, Ill., on prostitution charges. None of them posted bond, set at $80,000 each for Guerra and Vasquez-Sanchez and $20,000 for Alarcon.
The arrests are the result of a three-month investigation by Metro Police’s Special Investigations Division. Detectives had been watching Guerra’s apartment off Winthorne Drive near Nashville International Airport since April, when police were told he was running a prostitution business there.
The detectives think women involved in the operation were “frequently rotated” in and out of Nashville. They are working with FBI agents to determine whether the women were trafficked to the United States from Mexico.
Alarcon told police searching Guerra’s apartment that she arrived in Nashville on a bus with no money or vehicle on Monday. Vasquez-Sanchez told the officers he had been instructed to watch her. He also said he had collected payments for sex Wednesday.
Human trafficking has become a larger problem in Tennessee in recent years. Nashville police made 13 human trafficking arrests between 2011 and 2013, including four in February connected to massage parlors and an undercover operation involving Backpages.com.
The state decriminalized youth prostitution last year, meaning minors forced into sex work by traffickers will be treated as victims of a crime rather than charged with one.
Reach Noah Manskar at 615-259-8228 and on Twitter @noahmanskar.
Report trafficking or get helpOfficials have paired with interest groups to raise awareness of the state's trafficking hotline. The Tennessee Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is 1-855-55-TNHTH (558-6484).