MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - The Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Department announced a 2-day multi-agency investigation into online solicitation of minors.
"I cannot on our TV station, say the things they thought they were saying to 13 year old children," said Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman.
The DPS worked hand-in-hand with various law enforcement agencies throughout the Permian Basin in the sting. The DPS Highway Patrol, DPS Aircraft Operations Division, Midland County Sheriff's Office SWAT, Midland County District Attorney's Office, Andrews Police Department, Odessa Police Department, the FBI and Homeland Security all assisted.
Matthew Holman, 35, Fabian Galindo, 20, Chad Potts, 46, all of Odessa, Jeremiah Easley, 27, Lyle Heinzman, 23, of Midland and James Dyche, 41, of Grandfalls were arrested and charged with online solicitation of a minor younger than 15.
"I'm very encouraged by the work that is put on by these law enforcement agencies and the district attorney's office to stand up and do everything they can to prevent this kind of trash from happening in our community," said Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter.
The operation was led by special agents, who went undercover online in an effort to identify and apprehend sexual predators lurking in our area.
"These individuals all agreed to meet with a minor or someone that they believed to be a minor to engage in sexual activity," said Commander Cary Matthews with DPS.
After the suspects made contact with the minors, authorities say the agents let them take the reins.
"It was always the perpetrator that was bringing up any type of sexual activity," said Clingman.
When a meeting place was decided, authorities apprehended the suspects. Officials say this is not an uncommon crime for our area, but multiple sting operations throughout the past years have helped put many predators behind bars.
"We are always looking out for the safety of our children in the Permian Basin, and as a result of this, since 2013, we've arrested 26 individuals in the Permian basin for online solicitation of a minor," said Matthews.
Clingman says her office will being prosecuting these cases within the next five days.