SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office arrested more than 200 people during a nearly two-week-long operation from Oct. 25 until Nov. 5.
The investigation targeted sex crimes such as online sex predating, soliciting sex with a minor and prostitution.
FOX40 shadowed them for just a day and witnessed six arrests.
“Are you going to text me when you’re here, like what kind of car you’re in, so I can just walk over to you or what?” said a sheriff’s decoy posing as an underage girl. “I’m only like 13. I’m about to turn 14.”
Through a series of texts and phone calls, officials said Bobby Lee Ford traveled from Riverbank to Manteca to meet with who he thought was a young girl.
Instead, he was met by a team of undercover investigators.
“Sherriff’s office. Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands! Hands out the window now!” said deputies while making the arrest.
Ford is just one of the 38 arrested on suspicion of online sex predating during a 10-day operation led by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, involving local, state and federal law enforcement officers such as Homeland Security.
“We have an adult male who has been in contact with one of our decoys, and he believes he’s meeting up with a 13-year-old for the purposes of engaging in sexual acts. It has been made very clear to him that the person he believes he’s meeting is 13,” explained Nick Goucher of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
Jesus Manuel Diaz Rodriguez traveled from Modesto.
Condoms and drugs paraphernalia were found in his car, which officers said is evidence of his intentions.
“They come from all over. In the past, we’ve had people coming for from hours away to meet up with what they believe is an underage person for the purposes of sexual acts,” Goucher said.
Across town, another facet of the operation plays out targeting prostitution.
From day to night, suspects were arrested.
Two deputy decoys pose as prostitutes outside a Stockton motel, one of which is playing a minor.
The arrest led to a total 151 additional arrests, which includes 21 for soliciting sex with a minor and three for prostitution.
Those who were looking to hook up with the adult decoy were cited and released for solicitation, a misdemeanor, while those who wanted sex with the decoy posing as a minor were arrested on felony charges.
While some officers were on the street, others were back at sheriff’s office headquarters looking for the next predator.
“It’s a grooming process. And it starts very innocent, innocent, and it goes zero to 60 really quick to where they want to meet, they want to pick you, doesn’t matter where. And they get very aggressive and a lot of promises are made, you know, to try to entice them to come,” explained San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Capt. Ryan Biedermann.
Investigators said this is a reminder to monitor all of your children’s devices and social media profiles.
“Traffickers and people that are wanting to prey on kids are communicating through these applications,” Biedermann explained.
Officials said their ultimate goal is to keep kids and others from being victimized.
“We’re doing this try to get the perpetrators off the street. Raise awareness, the awareness of parents, the awareness of kids, that these perpetrators these predators are out there,” Goucher said.
Deputies also did sex offender registry checks and had a separate team of investigators ready to respond if they uncovered any sex trafficking, which wasn’t needed this time around.
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