16 men charged in Pearland online child solicitation sting operation

Getting into the mind of a person online who is trying to arrange a meeting with a child for sex is an easy one, according to detectives who’ve been at it for a while. 

They know, for example, that even a man who thinks he might be talking to a cop will still show up for an arranged meeting, hoping to meet a child, almost every single time.  It defies logic, and it’s so prevalent that there will never be enough officers to keep up with the amount of this alleged activity, say Pearland police.   

"Operation back to school" was a three-day sting in which investigators posed as kids online. They say 16 men chatted with officers and arranged to meet them at an apartment for the sexual encounter, where officers were waiting to arrest them.

Investigators say almost all of the 16 men arrested and charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor, expressed some hesitation about going through with he plans, during the online chats. 

Detective Cecil Arnold, a veteran of the sting operations, said, “In the majority of our chats, there is discussion of ‘are you a police officer, is this a sting?’"  But it doesn’t stop them from showing up, Arnold said.  

Police say each of the 16 men went to the same Pearland apartment, believing there was a child there, waiting to have sex with him.  Some came with items that police say were discussed during the chat with the “pretend child.”

“We got condoms we got sexual lubrication, wine coolers, food, and narcotics” said Arnold.  And when the handcuffs come out, Arnold says, so do a variety of explanations.  “We get the standard excuses that it was a fantasy they were just role-playing I really wasn't  here to engage in sex acts with a child I was coming to hang out and see what took place but obviously the chat records indicate a sinister intention.”

The apps and sites that police say the men used are easy to find.  They include: Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter, and Kik.

Mindy Ynfante, who has a 16 year old daughter said, “I have complete control over her phone. I look at everything.  I make sure I know it's people from school, and not a stranger.”  And that’s exactly what investigators hope parents will do when they learn about the recent sting.

The men come from a variety of backgrounds.   Jeffrey Brasfield, for example, is a physician's assistant from San Antoni.  Police say he was just in town for a conference when he went looking for an underage companion.  When police arrested Jake Luera, they said he admitted to having child porn on his home computer, in Webster.  It was seized and, along with the Brazoria County charge for solicitation of a minor, he is now also charged with possession of child pornography in Harris County.

Online Solicitation of a minor is a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.