13 Arrested In Rhode Island Child Exploitation Sting

NORTH SCITUATE, R.I. (WBZ NewsRadio) — More than a dozen men from Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been arrested in an undercover sting operation targeting child exploitation, Rhode Island State Police announced Thursday.

Six of the men arrested in the months-long sting, dubbed "Operation Guardian," are from Massachusetts—including one sex offender whose registration recently expired.

rhode island presser

Rhode Island State Police announced the arrests resulting from their undercover operation Thursday. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)

Undercover detectives used 16 different social media apps and online classified ads to communicate with the suspects, who thought they were talking to 13-15-year-old juveniles.

The suspects then allegedly arranged to meet them for "various sexual acts."

Rhode Island State Police Sgt. Damien Longo said the arrests show just how dangerous social media can be for young people.

"It's a parent's responsibility to monitor their children," Sgt. Longo said. "Understand that a lot of times, these children are smarter than their parents with social media."

Longo said a child could come from a perfect home with loving parents and still be exploited. He said he'd personally never allow his child to take their phone or iPad into their room with them at night.

"Take that away from them," he said. "It's up to their parents if they want to have their passwords or not. You can certainly restrict a lot of those applications."

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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