Recent undercover chat operations have led to the arrest of nine men for solicitation of minors, according to the Harris County Pct. 1 Constable’s Office.
The suspects all thought they were meeting teenagers for sex when these arrests were made.The operation was a joint effort by Precinct One constable deputies and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which took place in February and March.
As of Wednesday, the men have all posted bond. Their ages range from 19 to 75. Their occupations are across the board, too. The 19-year-old arrested, Rylan Garnett, thought he was meeting a 9-year-old. He is a college student majoring in criminal justice.
Also arrested was Michael Schurz, 32, a former Houston Astros draft pick.
Constable Alan Rosen explained how the oldest suspect, the 75-year-old man, traveled to meet up with who he thought was going to be a teenage girl.
“I can tell you that every time we have one of these initiatives, I am always surprised at the people that commit these acts,” Rosen said. “It doesn’t matter your age, it doesn’t matter socio-economic. We had a 75-year-old man get on a METRO bus to come down on a scooter to come down and think that he was coming to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.”
Rosen urged parents to be involved in their children’s lives, especially their social media activity.
“Be an active role player in their lives,” Rosen said. “Don’t let them sit in their room by themselves and hope for the best. You never know who they’re talking to. Can you imagine the devastation of the lives that have been impacted by people that this wasn’t an officer on the other side?”
Potential punishment for a felony conviction of online solicitation of a minor can be a sentence ranging from probation two to 20 years in prison.
“Law enforcement is taking a very proactive approach to this,” Rosen said. “This leads to other crimes in some cases. It leads to human trafficking in some cases and so we are going to continue to protect children and do everything we can to bring these people to justice. My message to those that are thinking of doing this, you could be talking to a policeman on the other end.”