Paul Kimata 41, of Brockton, Massachusetts, was arrested along with the other suspects following an undercover investigation dubbed Operation Guardian carried out by Rhode Island state and local authorities.
According to Boston Herald, Kimata was arraigned in court on Thursday and charged with indecent solicitation of a child.
According to police investigators, the suspects thought they were arranging to meet with children aged between 13 and 15 years but were actually talking to undercover detectives in the state police-run Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The men arranged to meet the undercover officers “for various sexual acts at a predetermined location,” leading to the 13 arrests for indecent solicitation of a child, with “several” additional ones possible, Rhode Island State Police said.
EXPLOIT AND PREY
“Child predators are constantly looking for juveniles to exploit and prey upon,” Col. James Manni of the Rhode Island State Police said at a news briefing at the agency’s North Scituate headquarters announcing the arrests Thursday.
All suspects were charged with indecent solicitation of a child while others faced separate charges, including electronically disseminating indecent material to a minor and, in one case, cocaine possession.
Police did not name the exact social media applications and online classified ads the suspects were using.
A judge set bail for two of the suspects, one who is a former Massachusetts sex offender who is no longer required to register.
The rest of the men were released on personal recognizance.
Indecent solicitation carries a sentence of no less than five years in prison. Electronic dissemination of indecent material to a minor carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to Sh500,000 ($5,000).