Order Reprint of this Story July 10, The suspects nabbed in the multi-agency effort range in age from 20 to 70, with 22 of them living in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland.
In some cases, the officers answered postings that already existed on sites like Craigslist and Backpage. However, the majority of them were ads placed on about five to 10 websites by officers claiming to either be kids as young as 11 or parents who were offering their children for sex. Our journalism takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to produce. If you read and enjoy our journalism, please consider subscribing today.
But it was the would-be perpetrators who actually traveled to the apartment who were arrested, said Washington State Patrol Lt.
Officers had been working on the operation for some time, setting up the online ads and communicating with those who responded to see if they were interested in meeting up, said Trooper Chris Thorson. The arrests were made at night between Wednesday and Sunday. After the men were arrested at the complex, their cars were either impounded or seized as part of the investigation. Officers served multiple search warrants on digital media, vehicles and the suspects themselves, Mjor said.
The crimes investigated include attempted rape, distributing drugs to a person under 18, commercial sex abuse of a minor, possessing and dealing child pornography, and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. As part of the investigation, five people were identified who have access to children at risk of being abused, Mjor said. Richland Police Chief Chris Skinner credited the voter-approved public safety sales tax with allowing his department and the Southeast Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to play a big role in the operation.
This is the eighth Net Nanny Operation in Washington state since August , which have led to arrests and 21 victims rescued. Those three were booked into the Benton County jail in the early hours of Thursday, and charged Monday. Harris, 32, of Pendleton, faces one count each of attempted second-degree child rape and communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Arbogast, 70, of Pasco, is charged with attempted first-degree child rape and attempted second-degree child rape.
Celis-Hernandez, 21, of Richland, faces attempted first-degree child rape and commercial sex abuse of a minor. The remaining men locked up have investigative holds for both felonies and misdemeanors. A few also have Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds. Prosecutors will review the rest of the cases this week and determine whether to file charges.
Mjor said he anticipates most of them will stay at the state level, but added that some may bump up to federal court and be handled by the U. The other 23 arrested are: Costs of the operation were covered in large part by a donation from the nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad. People who have information on the suspects or about the identity of potential victims can send an email to the Missing and Exploited Children Task Force, mectf wsp.
People also can call Rodriguez at , or the Richland Police Department at