Sex trafficking & drug bust in Grainger County

RUTLEDGE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Charlotte Krauss lives in Highway 92 in Rutledge - she said she never suspected her neighbors might have been up to no good.

"You think when you're in a small town like this, this kind of thing can't happen. But it does - it's in your back door," said Krauss.

Grainger County deputies seized about 2.5 pounds of marijuana, 7 to 8 grams of cocaine, other drug paraphernalia, and a stolen gun, trailer and motorcycle from the home next door.

But Krauss said what led deputies to the home is also disturbing: sex trafficking.

"The Knox County Sheriff's Department's Vice Unit began an investigation into the website backpage.com and it lead us to develop some information and make application for a search warrant for the residence," said James Harville, Chief Deputy for the Grainger County Sheriff's Office.

Before deputies searched the home, they conducted an undercover prostitution sting. They arrested Myala Jo Black for prostitution, and charged Rhonda Robinson with trafficking for commercial sex act for organizing and promoting the prostitution operation. Robinson also faces drug and theft charges for the stolen gun, motorcycle and trailer found at the home.

"They stole like guns and stuff like that - who knows what they could do with it. It's kind of scary," said Nicole Stieglitz, a neighbor.

Deputies said Carl Sellers and Stephen Luttrell are charged with patronizing prostitution. Luttrell also faces a child neglect charge.

"Toward the of the search, a vehicle pulled into the driveway. Officers made contact with that vehicle and began an investigation into why he was coming to the residence. Subsequently, we found about a pound of marijuana inside that vehicle as well," said Chief Deputy Harville.

He said Jose Martinez is facing drug charges for hiding the marijuana and some cocaine in a cracker box in his SUV.

Deputies said a 13-year-old boy inside the home while the search was happening. They said they're still investigating to see if he was involved in anything that was happening there.


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