Police COVID Sting Nets 30 Pedophiles Attempting to Meet Up With Children For Sex

The men, ranging in age from 20 to 74, were all arrested in a single county.

Police in Virginia say they have netted 30 pedophiles attempting to meet up with children for sex.

"Operation COVID Crackdown" was devised to catch predators preying on youngsters who are forced to conduct schoolwork on the internet and spend more time online amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In the sting, police claim each offender used online platforms to initiate explicit conversations in an attempt to solicit sex from a child, not realizing it was actually a police officer posing as one.

They arranged to meet the victim at an agreed location; when each one arrived they found a team of detectives waiting for them instead, and were taken into custody.

The operation was targeted at a single county of Virginia — Fairfax — which has a mere population of 22,000.

The men arrested ranged in age from 20 to 74; they were collectively charged with 68 felonies.

According to police, school closures and the implementation of distance learning have increased many children’s online presence and inadvertently placed them at higher risk of exploitation.

"Our detectives have remained vigilant and they recognized the increased threat posed by online predators in recent weeks," said Major Ed O’Carroll, Bureau Commander with Major Crimes.

"I commend their ability to adapt during this unprecedented public health pandemic and to do so in the interest of protecting our children and bringing justice to those who commit these repugnant crimes."

He advised parents to closely monitor their children’s online activities and use available security settings to prevent the use of age-inappropriate sites or platforms.

They should also encourage children to report any person engaging in inappropriate conversations or trying to coerce them into providing sexually explicit images of themselves.

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