The operation began Thursday as an effort to address human trafficking in East Tennessee, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said.
Investigators put up several decoy advertisements on websites with known links to prostitution and commercial sex cases to identify individuals seeking to engage in sex acts with minors, the agency said.
The decoy ads attracted eight men, all of whom were arrested and booked into the Sevier County Jail.
TBI identified the men as Carl Joseph Cantrell, 33, of Dandridge, Tenn.; Eric Burse Griffith, 40, of Robbins, Tenn.; Benjamin Jason Holt, 44, of Newport, Tenn.; Denis Tyulkin, 45, of Ravenna, Ohio; Tyler Ryan Arrington, 29, of Lebanon, Va.; Raul Pedro, 27, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Kevin Leroy Baer, 66, of Westminster, Md.; and Ivan Kale Freeman, 30, of Knoxville, Tenn.
All eight men face one count of solicitation of a minor. Griffith faces an additional count of soliciting exploitation of a minor.
The undercover operations involved multiple law enforcement agencies including the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, the Sevierville Police Department, the Pigeon Forge Police Department, the Gatlinburg Police Department, the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office Street Crimes Unit, and the office of 4th Judicial District Attorney General James Dunn.