TUCSON, Ariz. - Tucson Police say a multi-agency operation led to the arrest of 21 sexual predators last week.
Police say during the week of July 29 through August 2, twelve agencies conducted multiple undercover internet chats with people claiming to be adults. Law enforcement personnel posed as juveniles and agreed to meet the adults in to engage in sexual acts.
At the end of the five day operation, police say 21 sexual predators were taken into custody without incident, after arriving to meeting with the "juvenile" they were talking to online. All 21 men were booked into the Pima County Jail, and have been charged with luring of a minor for sexual exploitation, a class three felony. Many were also booked with addtional charges, including aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation, sex trafficking of a minor, attempted sex conduct with a minor, and sex offender registration violation.
Involved agencies include: the Tucson Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Pima County Sheriff's Department, Department of Public Safety, United States Customs and Border Proection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, United States Secret Service, Pima County Attorney's Office, and the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
“The resolve our TPD members displayed while planning and carrying out this work was outstanding,” said Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus in a press release. “We recognize the value of working on these types of investigations in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, including those at the federal level. Their expertise and support were critical to the success of this operation. This was truly a team effort. Together we successfully apprehended 21 child predators.”
“The U.S. Marshals Service is dedicated to pursuing and stopping these types of predators,” said District of Arizona U.S. Marshal David Gonzales in a press release. “Our partnership with the Tucson Police Department and other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, makes every effort to assure that child predators will be brought to justice and face the consequences of their actions.”
“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) continues to proudly partner with dedicated law enforcement agencies that work to protect children from predators who seek to take advantage of their innocence,” said Scott Brown, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Phoenix, in a press release. “HSI remains steadfast in finding these predators to bring them to justice and out of our communities.”
“Through operations like this, law enforcement agencies are able to work together to protect our children and keep our communities safe,” said Sean Kaul, Special Agent in charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office, in a press release. “We value our partnerships with our state, local, and federal partners and we look forward to continuing our efforts to combat crimes against children.”
Tucson Police are reminding parents and guardians to monitor their children's social media accounts, online friends, and internet history. They recommend setting parental controls when necessary, and talking with children about the potential dangers of the internet.