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Sheriff's office arrests 18 sexual predators targeting children; warns of heightened cases due to COVID-19

Posted at 2:23 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 23:48:47-04

WACO, TX — The McLennan County Sheriff's Office said that during COVID-19, they have worked under modified guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. During this time, they also discovered there were sexual predators targeting children, despite social distancing.

They said that during an online operation targeting men attempting to engage in sexual exploitation of children, they issued 20 arrest warrants. They said 18 people were arrested. The operation was lead by Detective Scaramucci.

During the operation, men wither solicited paid sex from children or enticed children to engage in the manufacturing and distribution of child pornography.

One person is out of state and another is at large.

"We want this to be a reminder to parents that with shelter in place orders and schools being closed due to COVID, children are on their digital devices more than ever," they said. "Those seeking to exploit them are as well."

They warn that parents need to monitor their child's social media account.

They said this operation was made by possible by the assistance of Homeland Security, the Lonestar Fugitive Task Force, the Freestone County Sheriff's Office, the Mississippi State Police and the Gulfport Police Department.