Fifty-one people involved in child sex trafficking rings were arrested across three Texas counties when law enforcement agencies carried out Operation ‘Broken Heart.’
As ABC News reports, the operation was straight forward: officers from Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force made accounts online where they posed as underage children looking for predators. The sting persisted for several months in the Montgomery, Fort Bend, and Harris counties, per the report.
Houston Police Sgt. Luis Menedez-Sierra described that some of the people who were arrested were public employees while others traveled from outside of the state.
“A suspect traveled all the way from California here to Houston, where he met his victim and sexually assaulted her,” Menedez-Sierra said during a press conference identifying those arrested. “This is not a local crime, this is not something just related to your next door neighbor, or one town away. This is a nationwide issue.”
Describing the case of Christopher Lakner, 26, Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen said that “during chats, he tried to convince undercover personnel he thought was a teenage girl to help kidnap children from area parks, breed them to make babies.”
Lackner was arrested at the location where he is alleged to have arranged a meeting with the undercover officer. He was arrested in April and is still in custody.
Operation “Broken Heart” is the code name for a nationwide operation to tackle child sex abuse. The operation targets suspects who deal in child pornography, groom children online, engage in sex trafficking or travel to foreign countries to abuse children, according to the Department of Justice.
The sting is the latest series of arrests meted out by ICAC task forces during Operation “Broken Heart.” Last year, the Department of Justice announced that more than 2,300 arrests had been made nationwide between the months of March and May 2018 as part of the operation.