By Bay City News Service
Fourteen men were arrested in an online sting targeting child sexual predators in Monterey County last month, the county sheriff’s office announced.
Sheriff’s officials say all 14 men took the bait from a deputy posing online as a 15 or 16-year-old girl offering to meet up for sex during a predator sweep called “Operation Mama Bear” last month.
Each of the suspects agreed via email to meet with who they believed to be the teenage girl at a prearranged location, officials said.
When they arrived at the location, they were arrested.
The men range in age from 20 to 63 years old and hold occupations including a home theater installer, landscaper, security guard, and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officer, according to the sheriff’s office.
A CDCR spokesman this afternoon said he had no knowledge of the arrest.
All but a handful of the suspects live in Monterey County, and none had ever been required to register as sex offenders, Deputy Brian Parsons said.
All 14 suspects were arrested on suspicion of meeting with a minor for sex and arranging to meet with a minor for sex. The suspects were each booked into Monterey County Jail, but all but three have been released on bail, Parsons said.
More than one of the suspects revealed that they had victimized other children, he said. Those victims have been identified and their cases are being investigated by multiple law enforcement agencies.
“These guys are predators and they do seek out young children,” Parsons said.
While the sheriff’s office always strives to protect children, he said, child sexual abuse is especially a priority due to the traumatic crime’s lasting impacts.
“We know that some victims go out and re-victimize… it’s one of those crimes where you’re not only stopping a crime now but preventing victimization in the future,” the deputy said.
Sheriff’s officials say they will conduct similar sex offender stings in the future.