Undercover detectives placed ads on websites to snare traffickers
Police in Arizona has conducted a massive operation to crack down on a child sex trafficking ring coined “Operation Degrossting,” which has resulted in the first arrests of 24 suspects.
The Mesa Police Department said they partnered with the Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler Police Departments, as well as the Attorney General’s Office as part of the massive child sex trafficking undercover operation.
Undercover detectives placed ads on websites known to be used by child sex traffickers and pedophiles looking for vulnerable children.
Mesa police say all 24 suspects solicited or made deals for various sex acts with children before the arrests were made.
According to abc15: Suspects in this case range from the age of 21 to 80 years old.
“Crimes involving children are of the highest priority and I appreciate our partnership with all the agencies involved in the successful removal of these dangerous child predators from our community,” said Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista.
To date, 42 charges have been filed against the 24 suspects. Those charges include luring, child sex crimes, marijuana sale, and resisting arrest among others.
Details on all 24 arrests can be found HERE on the Mesa police crime blog.
The Child sex trafficking epidemic
The child sex trafficking epidemic has always been here, however, since the dawn of the internet the sheer scale of the problem is becoming more apparent.
What most people fail to realize is the United States harbors foster care to sex trafficking pipeline, and the facts are shocking.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) found that “of the more than 18,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2016, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking.
Of those, 86 percent were in the care of social services when they went missing.”
The outcomes of law enforcement efforts against child trafficking consistently support the NCMEC estimate.
In a 2013 FBI 70-city nationwide raid, 60 percent of the victims came from foster care or group homes.
The Mesa Police Department is urging anyone who has information about someone being trafficked to contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org.