#childpredator | Suspected sexual predator arrested in Santa Cruz after citizen ‘sting’ operation | #sextrafficing | #childsaftey

SANTA CRUZ – A man suspected of attempting to meet a teen for sex at the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf on Tuesday was arrested following a citizen “sting” operation, police said.

Around 3:30 p.m., officers responded to the wharf after citizens’ livestreamed the operation, which involved an independent investigator confronting the suspect.

Police said the investigator had been impersonating as a 14-year-old girl to catch adult sexual predators. The suspect allegedly exchanged multiple inappropriate messages and eventually offered to meet in Santa Cruz.

Officers interviewed the investigator and requested that he send a message in their presence to the suspect. The suspect’s phone rang immediately, police said.

The suspect, identified as 62-year-old Valentin Rodriguez was arrested on suspicion for arranging a meeting with a minor with intent to engage in sex and lewd acts.

Following the arrest, detectives obtained search warrants for Rodriguez’s home and vehicle. It was not immediately known if there are any actual underage victims that were solicited by Rodriguez.

The case remains under investigation.

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