LATHROP, Calif. (KTXL) — One by one, detectives arrested suspects in an undercover ‘To Catch a Predator’ operation.
Lathrop Police Services Chief Ryan Biedermann told FOX40 that during the two-week investigation deputies posed as 13-year-old kids online and made dozens of contacts with potential predators.
“We want to take bad guys off the street that are trying to hurt kids,” explained Biedermann. “A small unit has put up different ads and is monitoring activity, and it is just like the ones we’ve done in the past. It’s unbelievable the amount of activity there is.”
Deputies arrested 18 men in all.
Officials said the suspects traveled from across San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties and even from the Bay Area looking to engage in sexual acts with minors.
“We could do this continuously on a daily basis and have the same results,” Biedermann. “And these are only the worst of the worst.”
All 18 men have been booked into the San Joaquin County jail.
Biedermann said with school out and many activities still shutdown because of the pandemic they have noticed increased child pornography activity online.
“Suspects don’t stop committing these kind of crimes because there’s a pandemic or civil unrest or anything like that,” said Biedermann.
Deputies said parents need to be vigilant and talk to their kids about how to stay safe online now more than ever.
“Monitor what your kids are doing check their devices, and we’re talking everything from a cell phone to a PlayStation, to a tablet, everything could be used to text or, you know, operate on these different apps that these guys are targeting kids on,” said Biedermann.
Beidermann said this was another successful operation and says they will continue to do them to keep kids safe.
“We know that there’s bad people out there, preying on kids and we need to catch them before they actually make a kid a victim,” said Biedermann.
The 18 suspects face a list of charges including contacting a minor for sexual purposes, contacting a minor with intent to commit felonies or for lewd and lascivious acts with a child.