Between 8 and 11 p.m., police met with several people suspected of involvement in the sex trade.
According to a police report, officers actually negotiated prices for sexual acts and paid hundreds of dollars in cash, but once the funds changed hands, arrests were made instead. The incidents happened at the Hyatt Place Hotel off Spring Hill Parkway just off Cumberland Boulevard.
“Starting at 5 p.m. the Smyrna Police Department and federal MATCH task force did a joint operation to combat human trafficking,” said Chris Graeff, public information officer for Smyrna Police. “Seven suspects were taken into custody and charged with prostitution. One was charged with human trafficking and one juvenile was recovered.”
Jasmine Keeona Whitener, 20, of Rome, Dystani A. Bethea, 19, of Marietta, Christina Tamburello, 29, of Massachusetts and Destiny Kagler, 18, of Atlanta were charged with prostitution. Tamburello was also charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Charged with pimping were Carnesha Veanna Moss, 23, of Decatur, Akim Alhassan Deen, 30, of Decatur and Kagler. Moss also was charged with driving with a suspended license. Kagler was charged with both pimping and prostitution along with sex trafficking.
The formal name for the MATCH task force is the Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force. Graeff said this was the first time Smyrna Police worked with MATCH, and the department hopes to work with MATCH once every month or every two months combating prostitution.
“With the MATCH task force, that’s all they do,” said Graeff. “They’ve got ways of finding these types of people and getting them to
come to the hotel we’re working out of.”
Money changed hands several different times but was returned following the arrests, according to the report. An undercover officer paid $220 for sexual acts with Whitener, $150 per hour for Bethea, $230 for Tamburello and $600 for sexual acts with Kagler and two unnamed women. Police department funds were used for the exchanges.
In the incident involving Kagler, a Smyrna officer was offered three females for $800 after contacting Kagler on BackPage.com.
He counter-offered $700, which Kagler accepted, but then he showed up to the hotel with only $600.
The report says Kagler came to the hotel with a 17-year-old female, who later told police she was never told how much she would be making, leading to the pimping and sex trafficking charges.
Graeff said Craiglist.org is also commonly used to find prostitutes. While prostitution rings often operate using certain hotels, in this case the police chose the meeting location.
“In this case, it was a ‘come to us’ type of thing,” said Graeff. “There have been situations in Smyrna at hotels where (prostitution) has been going on, which is why we hooked up with MATCH.”
Hotel ownership gave police permission to use three rooms at the hotel for the operation, according to Graeff.
Graeff added prostitution sometimes occurs in the area because of proximity to the Cobb Galleria, Cumberland Mall and the city of Atlanta.
Moss drove to the hotel in a white Dodge Challenger with North Carolina tags and Tamburello came in a rented 2013 Dodge Charger bearing Alabama tags.
Bond amounts were set as follows: $1,000 for Whitener, Bethea and Deen, $2,000 for Tamburello and Moss, and $25,000 for Kagler.