Authorities have arrested 16 suspects in connection with child sex crimes and human trafficking in the state.
In a series of methods used to catch the criminals, detectives posted advertisements on websites that are “commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts,” the department told FOX 10.
“The suspects allegedly solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested,” police said.
“The Phoenix Police Department routinely conducts operations of this type with our local, state and federal partners in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels child sex trafficking and the exploitation of children in our community,” they continued.
“The following suspects solicited various sex acts from minors and were arrested,” police added.
Detectives posed as minors online for weeks and conversed with the suspects.
“Typically during the end of the conversation, they might want to meet up somewhere and go through with what was already suggested or solicited,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Melissa Soliz said.
Phoenix Police police teamed up with the Tempe and Mesa police departments, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI in the operation.
Cases of child sex crimes are rising in Arizona, prompting agencies to ramp up their sting operations.
“There’s never enough times to do this,” Soliz said.
“These people need to be taken off the streets, and unfortunately, it’s incidents like this or operations like this that help us catch them before they’re able to victimize a child,” he added.
Soliz said suspects usually go unsuspected by the people in their lives.
“We don’t know who these people are because they have regular working jobs, white-collar, blue-collar jobs, and in order to catch them, we need them to commit the act,” he said.