The suspects, who range in age from 17 to 59, were arrested after communicating with undercover officers and traveling to Thurston County.
The Washington State Patrol says 22 men who were seeking to have sex with children — in some cases as young as 6 years old — have been arrested in a sting operation in Thurston County.
The suspects, who range in age from 17 to 59, were arrested after they communicated with undercover officers and then traveled to Thurston County during a five-day period this month, according to the Patrol.
Police say the men came from across Washington to meet detectives, who had posed as boys and girls online and in phone apps.
They face charges of attempted rape of a child, commercial sexual abuse of a minor and possession of child pornography.
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“While the internet is a powerful tool for our nation, criminals using it to target our communities necessitates a need for this type of proactive investigation by our law enforcement troopers and partners in order to combat these horrible crimes,” Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement released Thursday.
“This operation is aimed at protecting our vulnerable children and making communities safer,” he said.
The sting, the 15th of its kind since 2015, was spearheaded by the Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force with help from other law-enforcement agencies.
The State Patrol says 246 people have been arrested since the original “Operation Net Nanny” in August 2015.