26 people in custody after child abuse, exploitation investigation
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. – Police told Action News they took 26 people into custody since last Thursday for their involvement in child abuse and exploitation over the internet.
Authorities said the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Washington State Patrol, local and county agencies helped through the investigation.
"What is most disturbing as a law enforcement officer, I shudder to think what would've happened if one of these 26 suspects met a real child?" said Lt. James Mjor of Washington State Patrol.
Officials said 26 suspects are now in custody after a major five-day child sex sting.
"The hard part of this job is not dealing with predators but seeing the devastation they actually do to children," said Mjor.
45 law enforcement officials went undercover, posing as predators, children and even parents.
Officials went on common sites like Craigslist and Backpage, responded to ads of underage children for sex and made some of their own ads to entice predators.
Officials told Action News over 100 people responded.
Authorities said over two dozen traveled to meet who they thought were children for sex, but those kids turned out to be cops.
"This operation potentially saved an unknown number of children who would've otherwise been victimized by these suspects," said Mjor.
Police released a full list of suspects, and say five additional suspects had access to children at risk of being abused.
The suspects range from 20 to 70 years old, and most of them are from the Tri-Cities.
"Often we think of ourselves here on an island in that we don't deal or have to deal with some of these big city crimes we hear about on the west side of the state- but we do," said Chief Chris Skinner with the Richland Police Department.
Police said the best thing parents can do is monitor their kid's online activity.
"It starts with the community to raise a family, to raise a kid. We have to stick together on that and educate our children on the dangers that can occur," said Mjor.
Although police had a successful sting, they said they're not stopping there and will continue to track down predators.
The Richland Police Department is hosting a class for parents next Wednesday, July 19th at Washington State University, to educate them about how to spot dangerous online activity.
The names of those arrested during the Task Force operation are as follows.
Ryan D. Harris, 32, Pendleton, OR
Douglas Arbogast, 70, Pasco, WA
Marco A. Celis-Hernandez, 21, Richland, WA
Andrew L. Sanders, 33, Pasco, WA
John M. Scheline, 40, Pasco, WA
Gabriel Saenz, 41, Kennewick, WA
William J. Barrett, 47, Kennewick, WA
Darren J. Kerbyson, 50, West Richland, WA
James C. Doty, 34, Richland, WA
Yasir M. Majeed, 35, Kennewick, WA
Gregory B. Taber, 75, Pasco, WA
John N. Schouviller, 31, Pasco, WA
Antonio C. Garcia, 21, Richland, WA
Lucas F. Beach, 38, Pasco, WA
Stephen C. Perez, 45, Pasco, WA
Ali Al Mahfood, 35, Kennewick, WA
Kyle R. Sickels, 25, Kennewick, WA
Jesus G. Contreras Salgado, 29, Tieton, WA
Dewayne L. Hetrick, 42, Kennewick, WA
Thomas A. Swarers, 69, Kennewick, WA
Jerome G. Williams, 24, Kennewick, WA
James C. Escobeda, 20, Kennewick, WA
Yuriy L. Gulchuk, 35, Kennewick, WA
24. Jairo Lopez, 20, Yakima, WA
Aaron D. Hagerty, 42, Kennewick, WA
Daniel A. Medina, 20, Pendleton, OR