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CRIME STOPPERS: Undercover sting in Tacoma targets accused child sex predators

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This will not be easy to read, but it's important information for every parent in our state. Washington’s Most Wanted's Parella Lewis recently joined the Washington State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force and dozens of other agencies in a sting operation to identify child predators in our communities. Undercover agents either posted or responded to various ads online. Suspect after suspect showed up to a home in Pierce County where they believed young kids were waiting to have sex with them.

“When I say children, minors, I’m talking 11 years old, 8 years old, kids. We’re not talking about what’s on the verge of legal; there’s nothing legal about this,” said Det. Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez.

Eleven people in all showed up during the operation: Ten men and one woman ranging in age between 20 and 57 years old. Officers texted with suspects who believed there was a mother pimping out her three children: An 8-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy. Charging documents show one couple replied that, “Young is good. Your limit is our limit. We have fantasies about single-digit age.” The task force says that text was from 49-year-old Robert Quintero and 51-year-old Shelley Harper, who drove almost 150 miles to have sex with these children.

All of the suspects have been charged in Pierce County Superior Court with crimes ranging from Attempted Rape of a Child in the First Degree to Attempted Commercial Sex Abuse of a Minor to Attempted Rape of a Child in the 2nd Degree.

"Nothing is more important than protecting our children," said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Our goal here was to hold these particular defendants accountable, and also to send a message and deter all those who seek to exploit children." He went on to add, "One defendant told police that he responds to Internet ads an average of two times per day. He said he has a master’s degree in social work, has attended sexual exploitation seminars at work, and has been trained in communicating with victims of sexual abuse.”

Here are the upcoming court dates in Pierce County for each suspect and city where they are from: Paul Anthony Carson, 59, Olympia – Jan. 22; Eric Kermit Jacobsen, 48, Enumclaw – Jan. 20; Anthony Ray Blankenship, 32, Tacoma, Not in Custody – Jan 12; Charles Andrew Drury, 50, Puyallup – Jan. 19; Manuel Antonio Figueroa, 37, Federal Way – Jan. 19; Jehran Steven Franklin, 20, Puyallup, Not in Custody – Jan. 19; Shelley Dianne Harper, 51, Vancouver WA – Jan. 19; Robert John Quintero, 49, Vancouver WA – Jan. 19, Kenneth Paul Zimmerman, 57, Puyallup, Jan. 19; Cliff Alan Jones, 41, Lakewood – Jan. 22.

“This is the best thing to do, to make sure that people cannot hurt children, because that’s where it all starts. How is that person trafficked? Did they run away? Why did they run away? Are they being abused at home? So, all the cases we work, it’s a full spectrum. Anything with child exploitation, if we can help those kids earlier, maybe we can stop some of that,” said Det. Sgt. Rodriguez.

Thanks to the hard work of the task force and so many other agencies, these 11 are now being prosecuted. WSP’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force is one of the few agencies in the state that can accept public funds. Resources are tight and these arrests are just a small number of the predators out there working every day to abuse kids. Follow this link – www.wsp.wa.gov/crime/mectf.htm – if you would like to help the task force fund do more sting operations like this one. The donation is tax-deductible.

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