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24 arrested in Phoenix-area child sex crimes, human trafficking sting

PHOENIX — Twenty-four people were arrested in the Phoenix-area as a result of a multi-agency operation to crack down on child sex crimes and human trafficking, it was announced Tuesday.

The suspects, who ranged in age from 21 to 80 years old, were arrested on various charges, from aggravated luring to child sex trafficking to money laundering, according to the Mesa Police Department.

Mesa, along with the Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler police departments and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, participated in a six-day undercover sting called Operation Degrossting.

The operation involved officers and undercover detectives placing ads on websites “commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts,” Mesa police said in a press release. The suspects were arrested after soliciting and brokering deals for various sex acts.

Det. Nik Rasheta, a Mesa police spokesman, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the operation was conducted “in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels human and child sex trafficking within our community.”

This is not the first time the department has participated in a sting like this: Rasheta said officers have targeted suspects in similar stings each year.

“Crimes involving children are of the highest priority,” Chief Ramon Batista said in a press release.

“I appreciate our partnership with all the agencies involved in the successful removal of these dangerous child predators from our community.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report. 

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