The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement participated in a multi-agency operation to "target sexual predators who attempted to lure underage children with the intent of engaging in sexual activity."
After a "months-long proactive operation to combat child sexual exploitation and child sex trafficking" in Arizona's Pinal County, five men were arrested during the multi-day sting operation. The undercover operation, named "Operation Home Alone 2," involved local, state, and federal agencies, including ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Pinal Criminal Targeting Unit, Casa Grande Police Department, Maricopa Police Department, and the Pinal County Attorney's Office.
"HSI, working alongside our law enforcement partners, is deeply committed to pursuing alleged predators lurking within our communities seeking to harm and exploit our most vulnerable population," Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix, said. "This multi-agency effort epitomizes our ongoing mission in Arizona and is a testament to the men and woman who working these heinous cases law enforcement developed probable cause to charge five suspects. All suspects were booked into the Pinal County Jail."
Five people were arrested, including a former sheriff's detective. Christopher Butts, 44, a former Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detective from Phoenix, was arrested on charges of aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation and furnishing harmful items to a minor on Sept. 2, according to the ICE news release. Butts had been on bond for an arrest in February on the same charges, officials said.
Ryan Kellerman, 36, was reportedly arrested on charges of aggravated luring of a minor for sexual exploitation and furnishing harmful items to a minor on Sept. 3. Kellerman is also reportedly a suspect in a child pornography case with the Maricopa Police Department.
Daniel May, 40, and Matthew Salley, 38, were allegedly arrested and charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation on Aug. 26, according to officials.
Jordan Holloway, 26, was arrested and charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation on Aug. 27, according to officials.
All suspects were booked into the Pinal County Jail.
The arrests come on the heels of several successful operations by the U.S. Marshals that have located 72 missing and at-risk children in the past few weeks.
Last week, the U.S. Marshals announced they rescued eight "highly endangered" missing children in Indiana during "Operation Homecoming."
In late August, U.S. Marshals tracked down 39 missing children in Georgia and Florida during "Operation Not Forgotten." The U.S. Marshals Service said the children ranged in age from 3 to 17, and 15 of the children were victims of sex trafficking. U.S. Marshals cleared 26 warrants during the two-week operation.
Also last month, U.S. Marshals located 25 missing and endangered children from Ohio during "Operation Safety Net." The missing children were between the ages of 13 and 18, and were found as far away as Miami, Florida. U.S. Marshals noted that a quarter of the endangered children were victims of human trafficking and prostitution.