Undercover unit taps into sex offenders’ lust
Canadian County sheriff investigations into suspected child predators that began last fall has netted at least 20 arrest warrants, 16 arrests and two convictions since February, officials said Thursday.
That includes at least four arrests made last week.
Canadian County investigator Adam Flowers said the agency’s investigation into online predators is an ongoing process.
“Since the first of the year, we’ve issued about 20 arrest warrants,” he said.
However, beginning at the first of February through Thursday, there was a big spike in arrests. About 16 people have been arrested.
Many of those investigations began in October when initial contact was made through the county’s undercover social media account.
Flowers said some of the investigations took weeks or even months before the subjects proached the possibility of sexual contact with what they thought was a 14-year-old girl. Others made their move within hours.
And they are not all close. Some were as far away as California. Others were in Oklahoma, and some were even within striking distance.
In the case of those who live nearby, the arrests were pretty quick. But for those who lived in other parts of the state, arrests were made with the cooperation of local law enforcement, Flowers said.
That includes at least two people from Ponca City, a subject from Blackwell and two others from McAlester.
“When we get to the point where they are not going to come this distance, we issue the warrant and notify the local jurisdictions,” he said.
That was the case in Ponca City and McAlester.
“There is no rhyme or reason for the spikes. We have peaks and valley. Right now, is a peak. We are using a social media that is constantly blowing up. We’re getting them so quick that we are having to submit to the district attorney as fast as we can,” Flowers said.
As Flowers talked, he also pointed out that the undercover account was at that point receiving a nude photo from a suspect.
The department’s internet crimes against children division has two full-time investigators and another officer who works part time.
The results have shown results.
Maurice Kelly, of Oklahoma City, was charged Feb. 1 and pleaded guilty Wednesday to soliciting sex with a minor through technology. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with eight years suspended.
Terry Glass, of Orlando, pleaded guilty March 8 to the same charge. He was charged only a month before. He was given a 10-year suspended sentence.
Both will be required to register as sex offenders.
But the work is never ending.
“As soon as we get one, there is another one,” Flowers said.
Most of those arrested are first-time offenders, although a few are registered sex offenders or have statutory rape convictions. But, for some, it is the first time they’ve gotten caught,” he said.
Flowers said the department works hard not only to catch those who live in this area, but also those who live elsewhere is because of the concern they might attack someone there.
“I do believe they would have. If we keep waiting and waiting. If we keep trying to set up the stings, they may be preying on someone in their area. We are not going to wait around on them,” Flowers said.
But they do come to Canadian County to meet with what they think is a teenage girl.
“We’ve had them drive from all over the state to meet,” he said. “We set up the meets, and if they don’t show, we get a warrant. The stuff theya re talking abut is graphic and discusting. We don’t want them preying on someone else’s child.”
The scenario that is used by the sheriff’s office in its stings doesn’t seem to matter. The subjects still take the bait.
“It isn’t slowing down. We are still working multiple cases as we speak. … It doesn’t matter how much press we put out. We continue to get its on our social media. When I first started, I didn’t want people to know. But it doesn’t matter. We do a story and the next day we get more hits,” he said. “Even as I speak, we have another case that is active. It never ends.”