Two local residents are among 30 men arrested earlier this month during an online sting to track predators who used the internet to exploit children.
In the investigation — dubbed Operation COVID Crackdown — offenders were caught when they attempted to initiate explicit conversations and solicit sex from police officers posing as children.
When the individuals arrived at locations identified by the offenders, they were taken into custody.
“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, 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.”
The men ranged from age 20 to 74 and were charged with a combined 68 felonies. Kirrolos Guirguis, 25, of Herndon, was charged with solicitation of a minor and attempted indecent liberties. Concepcion Gonzalez, 38, of Reston, was charged with solicitation of a minor and attempted indecent liberties.
With distance learning in effect, police officers are encouraging parents to closely monitor their children’s online activities and use security settings to block inappropriate websites and platforms.
Here’s more from FCPD:
School closures and the implementation of distance learning have increased many children’s online presence and inadvertently placed them at higher risk of exploitation. Parents are urged to closely monitor their children’s online activities and use available security settings to prevent the use of age-inappropriate sites or platforms. Children should be encouraged to report any person engaging in inappropriate conversations or trying to coerce them into providing sexually explicit images of themselves. Additional internet safety information provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children can be found here.
A registered sex offender has been arrested after he walked into Aldrin Elementary School on Thursday.
Police believe Benjamin Garrett, 29, followed someone into the school around 3:55 p.m. that day.
He was confronted by a staff member but remained on the property.
A short while later, police arrested Garrett as he was walking away from the school. He was arrested and charged with entering school property after a violent sex offense conviction.
He is currently being held without bond.
Photo via FCPD
The operation involved detectives posing as juveniles online. The police department says the juveniles quickly received sexual solicitations, warning parents that “this type of crime is prevalent within our community.”
In all, eight men are facing various charges, including computer solicitation of a minor. Among them is Joshua Veary of Reston, who is facing three counts of computer solicitation.
More from an FCPD press release:
Major Crimes Division detectives from the Child Exploitation Unit recently conducted a three-day operation targeting online sexual predators.
Detectives, posing as juveniles, went online and within a very short period of time, received solicitations and sexually explicit images from men wanting to meet the “child” for the purpose of engaging in inappropriate sexual activity. The suspect and “child” would arrange a time and place to meet and when the suspect arrived, he was taken into custody.
The hard work of our detectives, along with those from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation , resulted in the arrest of eight offenders. Approximately 25 local and federal criminal charges were placed, including, solicitation of a minor, solicitation of a minor for prostitution, attempted indecent liberties with a minor (including a registered sex offender), and drug possession charges.
Detectives want to emphasize, especially to parents, this type of crime is prevalent within our community. They encourage you to closely monitor your child’s online activity; not only for predators who want to engage in physical contact, but also for those who wish to send or receive pornographic images from children.
Anyone with information about crimes involving suspected child sexual exploitation is asked to contact the Major Crimes Division at 703-246-7800, or Crime Solvers electronically by visiting www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org or text-a-tip by texting “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES(274637)** or by calling 1-866-411-TIPS(8477), or call Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.