KING COUNTY, Wash. – King’s County MPs arrested nine people suspected of inappropriately communicating with minors as young as 14, planning to pay money to have sex with them.
Undercover detectives made the arrests during an undercover operation at a hotel in Sea-Tac.
“These are the most vulnerable people in our community, our teenagers and young people. And there are those who want to come out and pick on them, they want to try to exploit them sexually. Our job is to interrupt that and to make sure the Puget Sound area, and King County in particular, is not a place where this is going to happen,” Cpt. Tim Meyer said with the sheriff’s office.
Monday was the first court appearance for the nine suspects. King County prosecutors argued their bail was between $75,000 and $100,000. A judge found probable cause in each case and set bail between $5,000 and $15,000.
Each suspect faces charges of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and commercial sexual abuse of a minor.
Court documents showed the suspects lived in different parts of western Washington, including one as far away as Iowa. The documents say the suspects used online messaging tools like MeetMe, Grindr and Craigslist to communicate with what they believed to be young teenage girls, “played” by undercover detectives.
In one case, the documents say a man “eventually agreed to meet the 14-year-old in his hotel room and agreed to bring alcohol, marijuana and $5 for sex. vaginal”. The documents also say that after his arrest, the man admitted to investigators that he “had recently applied for a job as a college tennis coach.”
“We recognize that while we had great success with the phenomenal work of our members last weekend, we understand that the market does not go away. There will always be those who exploit the most vulnerable,” Meyer said. . “We have to interrupt this.”
Without revealing too much about the investigation, Meyer said Criminal Investigations Division detectives are tracking online trends and patterns. This eventually led them to set up the undercover operation in SeaTac. CID conducts these targeted operations several times a year throughout King County.
“We’re going to use information intelligence to drive our decisions, where to put enforcement action. And in this case, [SeaTac] it just happened to be the area of King County where they felt it was appropriate to focus,” Meyer said.
There’s easy access to many messaging tools these days, including some lesser-known websites and apps like Discord, Skout, and Whisper. The Sheriff’s Office is urging parents and guardians to be vigilant about their child’s online activity and to be transparent about the risks involved.
“We’ve gone way beyond traditional Facebook. Digital apps, phone apps, whatever it is, messaging apps, make sure you’re there, engaged, know what your kids are up to. , know what’s on their phones,” Meyer said. “Be vigilant. Understand what your kids are doing online. There are so many different apps. Be transparent, have open and frequent conversations about online safety.”
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