MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) – Ten suspected child predators are off the streets of Delaware County. The district attorney announced the arrests Thursday after the conclusion of a month-long sting operation.
“There is no one face of a predator,” Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said.
Officials say undercover agents posed as children between the ages of 12 and 15 and engaged in online conversations about sexual acts with the suspects.
The men are accused of arranging a meeting with the victim they believed to be underage. Some of the conversations included requests for nude photographs and sexual requests. Some suspects allegedly sent nude photos of themselves to the undercover agents.
The following individuals were arrested: Marvin Gus Jennings, 53; Mohammed S. Merchant, 24; Gregory Mark Sylvia, 32; Santhosh Akinepalli, 27; Anthony Quairoli, 22; Michael Dean Norman, 38; Kenneth Albert Ruzat, 54; Andrew Stephen Oatley, 23; Roberto Flores Ascenion, 37; and Sachin Kumar Shetty, 28.
Among the suspects, at least one is a previous sex offender and some are on work visas and DACA.
Sylvia is an airline pilot from Peabody, Massachusetts.
Norman is a flight attendant from Las Vegas who, according to the affidavit of probable cause, tried to solicit sex from a 15-year-old boy on the social media app Grindr. Norman flew into Philadelphia International Airport on April 5 to meet at a nearby restaurant.
The district attorney said on separate instances Norman and Sylvia posed as teenage boys and planned to meet with minors near the airport but were instead met by state police.
“These defendants actively sought out and targeted juveniles, attempting to prey upon our youth, for their own warped sexual gratification,” Copeland said. “That is the very definition of predatory behavior.”
The men have been charged with attempt to commit statutory sexual assault and related offenses.
Most of the men arrested are now out on bail. Their next court appearances are later this month.