The three day sting started last Wednesday but Police Chief Henry Porretto says an unnerving investigation earlier this year was the precursor.
“A previous investigation has led us to believe that there were a lot of people coming to our island to have sex with minors,” said Porretto.
That spawned a well-planned, multi-agency child sex sting operation called “On the Hook”, which resulted in the arrest of 11 people. The suspects range in age from 18 to 63, all of whom made contact with who they thought were children online or by phone.
“These officers would engage conversation with both men and women who were clearly looking for sex with children.”
On Monday, Detective Michelle Sollenberger explained that it’s clear that the suspects knew what they were doing was wrong.
“‘Sorry I’m nervous’,” Sollenberger reads from one text collected during the investigation, “‘I feel like this should be on that show ‘Predator’ or something.’ So he knew at the time that he was doing something that was wrong.”
The undercover officers would then arrange to meet the suspects at a Galveston apartment. Expecting to be greeted by the underage child, the suspects were instead met by four police officers.
“Several of the suspects attempted to run, some even fought but all were apprehended,” explained Porretto.
Although this was the first operation of its kind in Galveston, Perretto says it won’t be the last.
“Don’t come here to do something illegal. This is a good city and it’s a family-oriented city and we can’t tolerate it and we will not tolerate it.”
The agencies involved were the Galveston Police Department, Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, Pearland Police, UTMB and Homeland Security.