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JACKSON COUNTY, Ind.– The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department announced eight arrests in connection with an anti-human trafficking and pedophile operation they dubbed “Operation March Sadness.”

The operation, which took place in two different Seymour locations, took place Tuesday, March 9 and ended on Thursday, March 11.

The following suspects face charges:

  • Richard N. Holman Jr, 60, of Holton, IN
    • Child solicitation (Level 4 felony)
    • Attempted sexual misconduct with a minor (Level 4 felony)
  • Jaceson A. Gahl, 19, of Indianapolis, IN
    • Child solicitation (Level 5 felony)
    • Attempted sexual misconduct with a minor (Level 5 felony)
  • Thomas P. Roesser, 36, Flowery Branch, GA
    • Dealing in methamphetamine (Level 5 felony)
    • Possession of methamphetamine (Level 6 felony)
    • Possession of a controlled substance (Class A misdemeanor)
    • Making and unlawful proposition (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Quentin G. Newton, 37, Evansville, IN
    • Making and unlawful proposition (Class A misdemeanor)
  • Johnny R. Lynn, 54, Bedford, IN
    • Child solicitation (Level 4 felony)
    • Attempted sexual misconduct with a minor (Level 4 felony)
  • Steven C. Frey, 30, Owensboro, KY
    • Child solicitation (Level 4 felony)
    • Attempted sexual misconduct w/minor (Level 4 felony)
    • Dealing in methamphetamine (Level 5 felony)
  • Hector De Acruz, 39, Indianapolis, IN
    • Child solicitation (Level 4 felony)
    • Attempted sexual misconduct with a minor (Level 4 felony)

Investigators communicated online with individuals using sex trafficking and prostitution websites. The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office assisted with handling legal questions.

Officers would use decoy profiles for 15 to 19-year-old females. Of the eight men arrested, six were arrested for allegedly attempting to have sex with a child under the age of 16.

Two others were arrested after the individuals showed up at the operation site expecting to pay for sex with either a 16-year-old or 19-year-old. They allegedly promised to pay with a controlled substance such as methamphetamine or ecstasy.

The sheriff’s office said 7,000 messages were sent and received during the operation and “all of the suspects “had intentions of having sex for money with girls 15-19 years old.”

“I knew it was going on, but to realize it was to that extent was kind of unbelievable,” said Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer.  

Two of the suspects are suspected sex traffickers who are accused of using intimidation methods in their attempts to “lure” the girls, officials said.

“We actually had one that actually had a knife in his hand when he knocked on the door,” Meyer said.  “He claimed that he just couldn’t shut the blade, but when we grabbed the knife we were able to shut it with no problem.”

The sheriff’s department credited the Covenant Rescue Group (CRG), a non-profit organization not affiliated with any vigilante group, in assisting with the operation.

“We want to make sure that those on the front lines in the fight against human trafficking have exactly what they need to get the job done,” said Covenant Rescue Group President, Josh Moody.  “Doesn’t really matter where you live, there’s a good chance that human trafficking is impacting your community.”

Based in Alabama, CRG works to provide equipment, software, operational support and training for police agencies to set up operations like last week’s sting.  The group is funded entirely by private donations and doesn’t charge police departments for a variety of services from different backgrounds.

“A lot of these guys are former special operators, Navy Seals, Rangers, Green Berets, those kind of guys,” Moody said.  “Former law enforcement who have years and years of experience.”

CRG was involved in a similar operation in Johnson County in December, which is how Sheriff Meyer learned of the organization.

Moody said CRG is working to expand into more communities to help in the fight against human trafficking.  One goal is to leave police departments with training and resources that can be used to set up future operations and can be shared with other nearby departments.

“Doesn’t really matter where you live, there’s a good chance that human trafficking is impacting your community.”