So far 12 suspects arrested in St. George charged with child trafficking and sexual exploitation
More than a dozen suspects were arrested between Monday and Wednesday for child trafficking and sexual exploitation of a minor following a sting operation in the St. George area.
It began with an ad posted on Craigslist implying that time could be spent with a child if they would respond by email.
Multiple calls from concerned individuals alerting police to the advertisement were made to police in the area.
More than 135 email responses were sent in response to the advertisement soliciting the services.
The high number of responses was a clear indication of a problem that would require additional resources.
Dixie State University Police, St. George Police Department, the FBI and Homeland Security took part in the investigations and arrests.
The sting operation included locations where the suspects could set up a meeting to have sex with children but police were waiting and the arrests were made.
A total of 12 individuals were arrested and taken into custody in Washington County, and one suspect was arrested in Kane County.
Moreover, there are two open cases involving suspects who did not show up at the predetermined location set by officers, so they were not arrested. However, they are now facing criminal charges for sending inappropriate images, or for similar offenses.
Suspects from Cedar City and as far away as California were arrested, charged and are now in the Purgatory Correctional Facility. There are still open cases.
The age of the suspects in the case ranged from 19-70 years old. There were some that responded to the advertisement but did not show up. These cases are also being investigated.
Mason Holzendorf of St. George was booked into jail on second-degree felony enticing a minor electronic crime. Curtis Mills of Cedar City was arrested that same night on one third-degree felony count of the same charge. Mills also faces one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and drug charges — each a misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, six suspects were arrested for second-degree felony enticing a minor electronic crime, including Alex Bustos, Nathan Rose and Micheal Erskine, all from St. George, as well as Skyler Carter of Cedar City, Jacob Rogers of Las Vegas, Nevada and Joseph Cooke of Kanab, who also faces second-degree felony rape of a child under 14.
Carter also faces one third-degree felony count of exploiting a minor — pornography, and a misdemeanor obstruction charge. Rogers also faces a third-degree felony charge of providing harmful material to a minor.
Erskine also faces felony rape of a child, criminal solicitation and third-degree felony count of providing harmful material to a minor.
Adrian Hernandez, also of St. George, was arrested for second-degree felony rape of a child under 14 and a third-degree felony charge of providing harmful material to a minor, as well as a misdemeanor drug charge.
Donte Ford. Ford has a long criminal history that includes human trafficking, weapons, drugs and other offenses that officers found.
That same night, a Cedar City man, Ali Alnasser, was arrested and booked on a second-degree felony count of enticing a minor — electronic crime.