Four men arrested, charged in human trafficking operation

Published 1:27 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

SULLIVAN COUNTY — A two-day joint undercover operation by special agents with the TBI Human Trafficking Unit, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, the office of 2nd District Attorney General Barry Staubus, and Homeland Security Investigations has resulted in the arrest of four men accused of seeking illicit sex from minors.
Over a two-day period beginning November 4, as part of an undercover investigation aimed at addressing human trafficking in Northeast Tennessee, authorities placed several decoy advertisements on websites known to be linked to prostitution and commercial sex cases. The focus of the operation was to identify those seeking to engage in commercial sex acts with minors. As a result of the operation, authorities arrested four men and booked them into the Sullivan County Jail.
• Matthew David Bailey, 42, Jonesborough, Tenn.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
• Kenneth Paul Kotowski, 49, Bristol, Tenn.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
• Ronnie Luther Gilliam, 63, Duffield, Va.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor, Exploitation of a Minor
• Michael William Alverson, 62, Piney Flats, Tenn.: Trafficking for a Commercial Sex Act, Patronizing Prostitution from a Minor
“The primary purpose of this operation was to identify those who prey on children and, in turn, support those who traffick them,” said Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy. “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.”
The Sullivan County operation marks the 12th one this year the TBI Human Trafficking Unit has conducted in partnership with local law enforcement agencies across the state. Information about human trafficking and TBI’s efforts to address this type of crime can be found online at www.ITHasToStop.com