Two Dozen Men Arrested in San Joaquin County Sex Solicitation Sting Operation

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SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- Daniel Peters is a veteran detective with the Manteca Police Department but last night and for the past week, he's been online and undercover.

“I'm acting as a 13-year-old female looking for older men,” he explained.

He and two dozen other detectives from Manteca, Lathrop and the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office joined together for a sex solicitation sting operation.

“It's very scary to know that these predators are out here and they're willing to talk to a 13-year-old child in this manner. The message that they sent it's disturbing and it's scary,” said Detective Andrea Lopez, spokesperson for the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators posted ads to different social media sites.

“They ask for pictures, of nude photographs of me. They would ask me what it is I want them to do and they express what they wanted to do to me, it's pretty vulgar,” Peters said.

FOX40 rode along with law enforcement Friday night and watched as they busted men at a Lathrop motel, some for soliciting a minor, others for adult prostitution.

In all, 24 men were arrested in a week-long sting operation.

“A huge number. It’s the most we've ever had in one week,” Lopez stated.

Acting Lathrop Police Chief, Ryan Biedermann, says once the ads were posted, there were so many texts rolling in that they couldn't keep up.

“We're only dealing with the more aggressive texters or communicators. There's probably hundreds of texts we haven't even talked to,” he said.

Detectives say they've gotten responses from hundreds of men and more than 10,000 text messages since Monday.

“We're hopefully preventing any actual real, life kids form being traumatized, communicated with or ultimately sexually assaulted,” said Biedermann.

Investigators say they'll continue be proactive and to do more of these operations in the future to keep kids and the community safe.

“If we save one, it's worth every bit of sweat, effort [and] money that we're spending on overtime to accomplish that. Absolutely,” Biedermann said.

To keep kids safe, authorities suggest parents should be checking their child's phone, know who they're talking to online and set up parental controls on any device that's connected to the internet.

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