7 dads face human trafficking charges after answering ads to meet underage girl in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Seven men are facing human trafficking charges after authorities said the men -- all fathers, from Kentucky and Indiana -- answered online advertisements to meet an underage girl at a hotel.

All seven men are facing charges of promoting human trafficking and prohibited use of an electronic system to procure a minor, according to Kris Pedigo, a detective with the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, WLKY reported.

Police arrested Blake Jeffreys, 40, of Louisville; Richard Tong, 47 of Louisville; Fabio Arguello, 47, of Louisville; Bradley Martin, 34, of Jeffersonville, Indiana.; Edward Phillips, 53, of Shepherdsville, Kentucky.; Amos Brown, 49, of Hodgenville, Kentcuky; and Jeffrey Stutts, 37, of Eastview, Kentucky, Pedigo said.

The sting, called Operation Bright Light, was conducted Saturday and Sunday, WAVE-TV reported.

“The name I chose was Operation Bright Light because this is a very dark and heinous crime and I want to shed that bright light on it,” Pedigo said at a news conference Monday.

Arguello is a well-known jockey who won the 1992 Kentucky Oaks horse race aboard Luv Me Luv Me Not, WAVE reported.

Police said five of the seven men arrested had steady jobs, and all but one was married. One man had recently gone through a divorce, the television station reported.

Police said they posted six ads online on different websites and were contacted 115 times, WLKY reported. Pedigo said some of the men backed out when they learned the person was underage, the television station reported.

Those who answered the ad and agreed to meet who they believed was a 16-year-old girl, were directed to a Louisville hotel to exchange money for sex acts, WAVE reported.

Police declined to name the hotel.

“The perps were provided a room number,” Pedigo said at the news conference. “Once, they made entry into the room, that solidified their actions. They were taken into custody right then.”

A female police officer greeted the suspects as they entered the room, and the men were taken into custody, WLKY reported.

Pedigo said a dozen other men showed up at the hotel, but never went inside.