TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - An Arizona man is in custody, facing sexual exploitation charges against a minor, all thanks to the help from a civilian Facebook group.
Officials with the Eloy Police Department said the group called Truckers Against Predators (TAP), which works to expose child predators, helped authorities land the arrest.
Anthony Greene founded TAP more than a year ago. The truck driver from Missouri said decoys connect with alleged predators online and arrange to meet.
That’s when he confronts them and streams it live on Facebook.
Just after midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, Greene approached 38-year-old Brian Hill at a truck stop in Eloy. In the video, Greene tells Hill the person he was speaking to “was a decoy.”
Greene said the decoy pretended to be a 14-year-old girl chatting online. Police say the man drove from Mesa to meet with her.
“She told him she was a virgin and rented a hotel room for them to go and have sexual relations,” Greene said. “Thank God a policeman pulled up the same time he did."
In the video, you can see the officer contacting investigators. Shortly after, Hill is taken into custody.
”What the Sargent was able to do was view the TAP members – that’s the Truckers Against Predators -- chat conversation. He was able to see the text messages,” Sgt. Kristie Barnette, the public information officer for the Eloy Police Department, said.
While Barnette said the department doesn’t have a stance on anti-child predator groups like TAP, she did say when they are provided with information, officers “take action.” Greene said he doesn’t consider himself a vigilante.
He just wants to help.
“We just want to see these guys go to jail,” he said. “We love police, we work well with police.”
In fact, for him, the group’s mission is personal.
“I am survivor of sexual abuse when I was a child,” Greene said.
He says his job allows him to expose potential predators in many locations.
"There is an epidemic around truck stops in the country with sex trafficking,” he said. “It's an emotional roller coaster because … if it wasn't us, it would be a child."
Greene is aware he is putting himself in what could be dangerous situations, but says it’s worth the risk. The Facebook group has exposed over 100 alleged predators, Greene said.
Hill was booked into the Pinal County Jail. Authorities tell us the charges he is facing are serious and if the evidence holds up in court, Hill could spend time behind bars.