CHATTANOOGA – An investigation by Special Agents with the Human Trafficking Unit of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with several other agencies, resulted in a Georgia man being arrested on multiple charges, including human trafficking of a 17-year old female.
On January 19th, acting on a tip from the nonprofit Second Life Chattanooga, TBI Special Agents and Chattanooga Police Department vice officers learned that a 17-year-old female was being trafficked at a hotel located at 7014 McCutcheon Road in Chattanooga. During the course of the investigation, an undercover officer contacted the female through a phone number listed on a Backpage.com ad and arranged to meet her for sex in exchange for money. The officer located the female in the hotel room, and she was placed into protective custody by the Department of Children’s Services. The investigation revealed that Hector Velasquez oversaw and controlled the victim during the transactions. He also stayed in the hotel room, paid for by funds made by the female as a result of the trafficking. It was determined that Velasquez was an absconded sex offender with an active warrant out of Okeechobee, Florida.
Following a human trafficking operation last week run jointly with the TBI and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, TBI Director Mark Gwyn emphasized the importance of sharing information with other law enforcement agencies to help combat the trafficking issue. “Cooperation is always important in law enforcement, but it is never more important than when we set out to protect children,” Gwyn says. “These operations give us an opportunity to share our experience, information and resources to make sure there is no safe place to hide for individuals who victimize the most vulnerable among us.”
On January 19th, Hector Velasquez, 41, of Rossville, Georgia, was arrested and charged with one count of Human Trafficking, one count of Promoting Prostitution, and one count of Criminal Impersonation. He was booked into the Hamilton County Jail, where he is being held without bond and on a hold from Florida.