INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple suspects are facing child solicitation charges after a 3-day undercover sting operation in Franklin this week.
The bust, dubbed Operation Guardian, resulted in 7 people being booked into the Johnson County jail for child solicitation.
Investigators say it is not the first time and it will not be the last time they crack down on child predators.
Getting online and posing as an underage girl, undercover officers in Johnson County engaged in chats with 7 suspects who investigators claim agreed to meet for a sexual encounter at a hotel in Franklin where they were arrested.
“These predators are out there, and they will come meet with your child,” said Johnson County major Damian Katt.
Major Katt says the seven suspects range from 27-years-old all the way to 60 and came from Greenwood, Franklin, Zionsville, Pendleton, Nashville, Indianapolis and Bloomington.
During the online chats, people in the chat rooms reportedly warned that law enforcement frequently poses as minors, but that didn’t dissuade the suspects from allegedly agreeing to meet.
“I’m not surprised anymore, but it’s unfortunate and it saddens me and I worry for the children out there now,” said Katt.
“This was our second operation and I don’t believe it will be our last,” said Johnson County prosecutor Joe Villanueva.
The men were taken into custody on charges ranging from child solicitation to obscenity/dissemination of pornographic material to a minor and possession of meth. The operation was similar to another that took place in December, resulting in 10 arrests dubbed Operation Firewall.
The county prosecutor adds that law enforcement alone can’t eliminate the issue and says parents have to play their part.
“As a parent, it’s crucial to know where your children are with online access,” said Villanueva.
Major Katt just hopes the pair of busts serve as a warning to potential child predators everywhere.
“We’re not going to go away,” said Katt. “We’re putting it out there that we’re going to continue these operations.”
In addition to the 7 arrests for child solicitation, an 8th suspect was arrested on drug-related charges.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office will determine formal charges in the case.
Police arrested the following individuals:
- Christopher L. McClain, Greenwood; child solicitation
- Patrick McGough, 46, Zionsville; child solicitation
- Jesus Martinez, 28, Pendleton; child solicitation
- Kevin Hatchett, 60, Nashville; child solicitation
- John D. Fenes, 34, Franklin; child solicitation; obscenity/dissemination of pornographic material to a minor
- Deekshith Reddy Deva, 27, Indianapolis; child solicitation
- Danny J. Harris, 48, Bloomington; child solicitation; obscenity/dissemination of pornographic material to a minor; possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine)
- Richard Gamman, 24, Indianapolis; dealing in methamphetamine; resisting law enforcement; driving while suspended with a prior