16 arrested in police sting targeting sexual predators online

PEARLAND, Texas -- The Pearland Police Department recently conducted an online sting, called operation "Back to School," in an effort to crack down on sexual predators targeting kids online. Sixteen men -- ranging in age from 20 to 58 -- were arrested as a result of the sting.

In this type of crime, suspects use various websites to get in touch with children and then attempt to lure them to meet up for sexual activity. During "Back to School," investigators posed as minors, both boys and girls while online and identified suspects who were trying to meet children for sex. When the suspects arrived for a sexual rendezvous with the minor child at an apartment in Pearland, they were met instead by officers of the Pearland Police Department, who arrested them.

Asked how the suspects reacted when they saw police, Pearland Police Department Detective Cecil Arnold said, "Complete shock. They showed up expecting to have an underage child and instead they met the Pearland Police Department. Shock, remorse, anger, crying, uncontrollable sobbing, I guess, realizing that their future is now in jeopardy."

Police tell Eyewitness News among those men arrested is a physician's assistant, Jeffrey Brasfield, of San Antonio, who was in town for a conference, but had more on his mind than work.

Pearland police worked with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Similar operations have been waged by HMICAC, most recently in Ft. Bend County, Galveston County, and Harris County.

Investigators gave few details on the investigations, saying they wanted to protect their methods for future operations. However, they did disclose that they met the suspects online via popular online websites and chat apps.

The 16 suspects were arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor - 2nd degree felony. If convicted, the penalty for a second degree penalty is 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. All were transported to the Pearland Police Department detention facility and will face charges in Brazoria County.
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