Aurora police chief speaks on operation targeting online child sex predators

AURORA, Colo. — Thirty-eight alleged child sex predators were arrested in Aurora as part of a nationwide operation, the Aurora Police Department said Tuesday.

The two-month operation called Operation Broken Heart was led by the U.S. Department of Justice and in Colorado by the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

The operation targeted people suspected of committing the following crimes:

  • Producing, distributing, receiving or possessing child pornography
  • Enticing children online for sex
  • Sex trafficking of children
  • Traveling across state lines or to foreign countries to sexually abuse children

APD Chief Nick Metz says the 38 suspects his officers arrested range in age, race and occupation, adding that some of them hold high-level occupations.

“It just seem so easy for some of these men -- all of them were men -- in how they engaged on the computer as far as trying to set up these encounters,” said Metz.

He says it’s scary to think about how many of the suspects have offended in the past.

Erin Katz with Sungate Kids says news of the arrests should serve as a reminder to parents that these kinds of crimes are happening all the time.

“We interview between 700 and 800 kids a year and they only cover the 18th Judicial District here in the suburbs of Denver,” explained Katz.

Sungates Kids is a local organization that helps facilitate investigations for child abuse victims and offers therapy. They also help with prevention. Katz encourages parents to monitor kids' online activity.

Most importantly, Katz says the ‘secret weapon’ to keeping kids safe is communication. She recommends talking to kids about safety and encouraging them to talk to trusted adults when something doesn’t seem right.

“The earlier you do it, and the more often you do it in [an] everyday setting, the safer kids are going to be,” said Katz.

The operation was conducted in April and May. Nationwide, nearly 1,700 people were arrested during that period, according to the DOJ.

To report suspected online sexual exploitation of a child, visit the Cyber Tipline.

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