PHOENIX - Police say 29 men were arrested in connection to an undercover operation targeting child sex crimes and human trafficking in Arizona.
"Operation April's Fools" resulted in the arrest of suspects soliciting various sex acts, the Phoenix Police Department said on May 10.
"We had detectives placing ads, posing as underage victims that you could come to solicit a sex act from," explained Phoenix Police Sgt. Andy Williams. "So in this case, no actual victims."
The operation consisted of law enforcement members from ten different agencies, local, state and federal, to lure in dozens of would-be child sex offenders and human traffickers.
"We are seeing legitimate victims every day of this underage sexual conduct with a minor, human trafficking, so I think it’s just looking at the problem holistically and attacking it from every angle," Williams said.
Operations like this work to stop sexual predators in their tracks before they can turn another child into a victim.
"For so long, we’ve seen child sex victims be called "child prostitutes," said Daphne Young, chief communications officer at Childhelp. "We’ve seen kids suffer in silence."
She says the organization is constantly helping kids recover who’ve experienced this type of trauma. It's a growing problem not just in Phoenix, but nationwide.
"Our hotline has seen such an increase during the pandemic related to child trafficking and people reaching out online. It doesn’t surprise me that they were able to catch so many people so fast," Young said.
As for the news of the success of this operation, Daphne says she's thrilled.
"I am thrilled that our law enforcement is not only catching the predators but publishing their names," she said.
"Operation April's Fools" resulted in the arrest of 29 men in an undercover child sex crimes and human trafficking sting.