Washington police arrest 21 people in child sex abuse sting

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington State Patrol detectives have arrested 21 people as part of an online sex predator sting.

WSP officials say the operation resulted in four children being rescued from abusive situations. The suspects have a range of ages and backgrounds and the majority of them have no prior criminal history.

“It’s vital we take these child predators off the streets and keep our children safe,” says Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste. “Through collaboration with our partners, we are making the internet safer for kids and are also able to protect the most vulnerable community members from abuse.”

The patrol's Missing and Exploited Children Task Force worked with local law enforcement to conduct the undercover operation on Sept. 7-18.

Several of the arrests were made at a Tumwater apartment building. Detectives say they posed as a mother offering her underage children for sex in an online advertisement.

“The significant investigative, surveillance and computer forensics support from our Homeland Security Investigations special agents proves that we leave no stone unturned when it comes to removing these predators from our communities,” said Steve Cagen, acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “The staggering number of arrests achieved through interagency cooperation are a testament to our combined passion to prevent future harm to innocent children.”

The suspects were charged with attempted rape of a child because they arrived at the location after arranging to have sex with a minor.

WSP says the success of the operation was a collaborative effort involving these agencies: