An undercover operation targeting child sexual predators in Utah County resulted in 13 arrests and nearly four dozen felony charges last week.
To catch predators online on social media apps, investigators with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, or ICAC, teamed up with the Provo Police Department and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
The operation lasted one week from May 13 to 17, and officials said the men were reportedly actively and aggressively trying to initiate sexual contact with children.
“We as a law enforcement community are deeply troubled by these alleged crimes and the apparent increase in the attempts to meet children,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes at a press conference Monday.
Offenders are primarily targeting girls and boys ages 11 to 13, he explained, and the number of offenders is growing based on how many cases and tips police agencies handle across the state.
“This is a significant threat to public safety and because of that, we will prosecute these cases aggressively and hold these offenders accountable,” said Utah County deputy attorney Christine Scott.
Among those arrested was Provo resident Jared Park, 29, who reportedly lived within blocks of the Brigham Young University campus.
During the undercover sting, Park reportedly sent nude pictures to an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl. Investigators arrested him after he arranged to meet the agent at a park in Provo.
He is facing charges for a first-degree felony of attempted rape of a child, a second-degree felony of enticing a minor, and six counts of dealing harmful material to a minor, all third-degree felonies.
Two men were arrested after undercover agents posed as mothers looking for someone to teach sexual acts to their daughters.
Tysen Aric Toone, 20, of Orem, made contact with two undercover agents in separate social media conversations. He reportedly told both agents he would teach their daughters “anything she wants to learn about sex,” charges state.
Toone was charged with two counts of attempted rape of a child, two counts of attempted sodomy of a child, two counts of attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and two counts of criminal solicitation, all first-degree felonies.
Steven Bruce Holmberg, 60, of Springville, was charged with attempted sodomy on a child and criminal solicitation, both first-degree felonies. He reportedly told the agent he would “be gentle” and pay $60 to sexually assault the agent’s pretend daughter.
Other arrests during the sting operation included:
Brysen Kenneth Lee, 19, of Mapleton; Alberto Andrade, 31, of Provo; and Matias Ignacio Kandalaftruminot, 29, of Orem, who were all charged with attempted rape of a child, a first-degree felony, and enticing a minor, a second-degree felony.
Lehi Spencer Santiago-Lastra, 39, of Provo, was charged with two counts of attempted sodomy on a child, first-degree felonies, and enticing a minor, a second-degree felony.
Tylor Normand Berube, 27, of Layton, was charged with attempted rape of a child and attempted sodomy of a child, both first-degree felonies, as well as enticing a minor, a second-degree felony, and attempted forcible sexual abuse, a third-degree felony.
Adam Peter Friel, 31, of Provo, was charged with attempted sodomy on a child and criminal solicitation, both first-degree felonies.
Carlos Portillo, 48, was charged with attempted forcible sodomy, a second-degree felony.
Timothy Lavell Dickerson, 29, of Taylorsville, was charged with two first-degree felonies of attempted sodomy of a child, a second-degree felony of enticing a minor, and a third-degree felony of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Kelly Glen Herring, 33, of Magna, was charged with attempted rape of a child and attempted sodomy of a child, both first-degree felonies, along with enticing a minor, a second-degree felony, and dealing materials harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony.