Multiple law enforcement agencies worked together to eliminate a large trafficking and child sex crime ring in Arizona. Police arrested 16 during their undercover sting operation dubbed “Operation Tangled Web.”
The complex, multi-week operation was supported by the Phoenix police Human Exploitation and Trafficking unit along with Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix police departments, the FBI, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, Homeland Security Investigators and the Phoenix Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit.
According to the Epoch Times, law enforcement officials “placed advertisements on websites that are commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts involving children.” Police engaged those suspected of illegal activity in conversations for weeks during which they gathered incriminating information.
The sting action resulted in police arresting 16 men aged 19-51. Local police reported the men were charged with having “solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts.”
Arizona’s Family noted the men were charged with “child sex trafficking, attempted sexual conduct with a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, failing to register as a sex offender, and more.”
Phoenix Police Sgt. Melissa Soliz noted that “typically, during the end of the [sting] conversation[s], they might want to meet up somewhere and go through with what was already suggested or solicited.”
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), 145 cases related to sex trafficking were reported in Arizona this year — 44 of those cases involved minors.
NHTH reports 51,667 contacts regarding human trafficking across the United States in 2022 with California, Texas and Florida reporting the highest numbers.
A March report by the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) noted their office received a record-high 29,397,681 reports of suspected child sexual exploitation to its CyberTipline in 2021.
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