Operation Baby Face has snared seven adults seeking to have sex with a purported 14-year-old girl who was a decoy, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Additionally, two men were arrested earlier in the month for seeking sex with a teen boy, also a decoy, authorities said.
Saturday, detectives set up a “Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator”-type sting targeting people who communicated via social media with a fictitious teen girl created by a deputy sheriff.
The decoy said she was visiting another 14-year-old friend while her parents were out of town.
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When they showed up at a home in the Visalia area to have sex with the fictitious girl – three suspects also discussed having the other juvenile participate in sex acts, the sheriff’s office said – detectives arrested Javier Hernandez, 22, of Porterville; Benjamin Lopez-Herrera, 23, of Delano; Hector Ornelas, 24, of Avenal; Jonathon Hernandez, 25, of Porterville; Steven Albertson, 27, of Visalia; Michael Farias, 19, of Exeter; and Raymond Lopez, 52, of San Pablo.
Lopez drove from San Pablo and stopped at a Victoria’s Secret to buy clothing, body lotions and bath sprays for both 14-year-olds, the sheriff’s office said. He also brought alcohol.
On Feb. 14, two people were arrested when they arrived at the agreed location to meet a 14-year-old boy, the sheriff’s office said. They were identified as Brock Pearson, 39, of Springville, and Fernando Chavez, 27, of Dinuba.
Operation Baby Face was launched last year in which three main suspects and 12 others were nabbed in a human trafficking bust, and seven men were arrested in a sting for seeking sex with a fictitious 16-year-old girl.
Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said billboards have gone up around the county, educating the public about child predators as part of an internet child safety campaign.