TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In May of 2019, the Tucson Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit (ICAC) invited 11 local, state, and federal agencies to participate in a multi-agency operation targeting those who prey on the children of the Tucson community.
Through the week of July 29, 2019 to August 2, 2019, agencies involved in the investigation conducted multiple undercover internet chats with individuals claiming to be adults. The law enforcement personnel, who were chatting online, posed as juveniles and agreed to meet the adults in Tucson to engage in sexual acts.
At the end of the five day operation, 21 men were taken into custody without incident, after arriving to meet with the “juvenile” they were talking to online.
All 21 men were booked into the Pima County Jail and charged with Luring of a Minor for Sexual Exploitation (Class 3 Felony). A large majority of those arrested were booked on additional charges including Aggravated Luring of a Minor for Sexual Exploitation (Class 2 Felony), Sex Trafficking of a Minor (Class 2 Felony), Attempted Sex Conduct with a Minor (Class 3 Felony), and Sex Offender Registration Violation (Class 4 Felony).
Of the 21 men, one has been confirmed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as a former CBP officer. Officer Daniel E. Perez was arrested on Aug. 1 during the operation and he is no longer an employee with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“The resolve our TPD members displayed while planning and carrying out this work was outstanding,” said Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus. “We recognize the value of working on these types of investigations in collaboration with our law enforcement partners, including those at the federal level. Their expertise and support were critical to the success of this operation. This was truly a team effort. Together we successfully apprehended 21 child predators.”
The 12 agencies who participated in the operation include the Tucson Police Department (TPD), Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD), Pima County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD), Department of Public Safety (DPS), United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Marshals Service (USMS), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), United States Secret Service (USSS), Pima County Attorney’s Office (PCAO) and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AZAG).
The Tucson Police Department would like to remind parents and guardians to monitor their children’s social media accounts, online friends, and internet history as well as set parental controls when necessary and talk with children about the potential dangers of the internet and social media.
Being aware of a minor’s internet activity is crucial for their safety.