Four police departments, six days, 24 arrests.
A multi-agency law enforcement task force has arrested two dozen men in an undercover operation targeting child sex crimes and human trafficking.
The Mesa Police Department partnered with the Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler police departments as well as the Attorney General’s Office as part of the undercover operation, known as "Operation Degrossting."
Over a period of six days, officers and undercover detectives placed ads on websites commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts.
Police say the suspects solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested.
"They all begin with a communication that involves a solicitation, a type of act that’s illegal and a negotiated place for that act to occur," said Mesa Police Detective Nik Rasheta.
The suspects in the latest operation ranged in age from 21 to 80 years old.
Each year the Mesa Police Department conducts operations of this type in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels child and human sex trafficking from our community.
"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 Chief Ramon Batista.
"If someone is willing to go online, contact a stranger and negotiate an act involving a child, we don’t know what that person is doing at home in their own social sphere," said Rasheta.
The suspects arrested are: Murrey Sells, 25 Kenneth Palmer, 62 Bryon Wood, 40 Frank Labarbera, 55 Mark Bayuk, 26 Larry Jacobs, 60 Jordan Dunn, 34 Brian Bush, 42 Jorge Gastelum-Angulo, 35 Fernando Romero, 21 Paul Simerda, 26 Cedric Dallas, 22 Bobby Sharp, 80 Melquiades Villalobos, 54 Tony Fahrbach, 27 Brandon Oakley, 29 Andrew Prim, 61 Desmond Spearman, 60 Nathan Osborne, 34 Troy Wayne, 36 Skyler Wright, 39 Amadeo Villanueva, 35 Derek Reese, 42Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.
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