SHERIFF: 36 charged in child sex solicitation investigation

By  | 

PITT COUNTY, NC (WITN) - Three dozen people are facing charges after a three-month undercover investigation of child sex predators.

The Pitt County Sheriff's Office says "Operation Casual Encounter" targeted sexual predators who use Craigslist.com, Backpage.com and other social media sites to find children for sex crimes.

Eight of the 36 people arrested arranged to meet children, according to the sheriff's office.

Phase 1 of the operation began on March 28th, and targeted those who wanted to have sex with underage children.

Some drove from outside Pitt County to meet the undercover officers.

Deputies say they originally thought the operation would only last two weeks, but the response caused it to continue for three months.

Phase 2 focused on the "Johns", those who used the Internet to pay for sex acts. In that phase, 16 people were arrested.

The final phase dealt with arresting suspected prostitutes themselves.

Deputies say they found Craigslist to be a "hotbed" for sexual activity. They said after posting an ad on the site, it wasn't uncommon for them to receive between 150 to 200 replies within the first hour.


PHASE I, UNDERCOVER SEXUAL PREDATOR STING:

Andrew Harmon, 32.
04-25-2016: Deputies say Harmon agreed to meet with a 15 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse Andrew Harmon was apprehended and charged with: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

Richard Rushing, 59.
04-26-2016: Deputies say Rushing agreed to meet with a 15 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse, Richard Rushing was apprehended and charged with: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

John Watson, 53.
04-29-2016: Deputies say Watson agreed to meet with a 14 year male for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. John Watson was apprehended and charged with: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

Ervin Johnson, 51.
05-05-2016: Johnson agreed to meet with a 15 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. Ervin Johnson was apprehended and charged with the following: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

Kevin Angel, 35.
05-09-2016: Deputies say Angel agreed to meet with a 15 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. Kevin Angel was apprehended and charged with the following: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

Lewis Bell, 45.
05-13-2106: Deputies say Bell agreed to meet with a 15 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. Lewis Bell was apprehended and charged with the following: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

Adrien Davis, 62.
05-17-2016: Deputies say Davis agreed to meet with a 14 year old female for the purpose of having sexual intercourse. Adrien Davis was apprehended and charged with: Solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devises to commit an unlawful sex act. G.S. 14-202.3.

PHASE II: "JOHN'S" UNDERCOVER PROSTITUTION STING:

The following people were charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution:

06-14-2016: Quintin Smith, Mark Isreal, Rodney Holley, Edward Solares.
06-16-2016: Agripino Angel-Romero, Joshua Roberson, William Cherry, Luis Diaz.
06-25-2016: Darrius Blount, Joe White Jr., Justin Harrell, Rakim Dupree, Roberto Donagustin, Terrell Jacobs.

PHASE III, UNDERCOVER PROSTITUTION STING:

The following people were charged with misdemeanor prostitution:

05-18-2016: Montana Brown, Tamara Smith
05-24-2016: Joyce Strickland, Amber Parker
06-13-2016: Abbie Wheeler
06-14-2016: Dana Scaggs
06-16-2016: Jamie Myers, Jasmine Spruill, April Ruchugo, Melissa Wadsworth, Amber Verville
06-25-2016: Jose Serrano