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Seven arrested during law enforcement operation aimed at locating internet child sex predators

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Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 00:07:23-04

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — Seven people were arrested last week as part of a two-day operation aimed at locating internet child sex predators in and around the Mesa County area, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

The operation included investigators from the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Grand Junction Police Department, Palisade Police Department, 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Investigators posted ads for sex with children on several websites, social media sites and applications, the sheriff's office said.

“This operation sends a clear message to anyone who thinks they can exploit our children in our community – we will catch you, you will go to jail, and you will be prosecuted,” said Mesa County Sheriff Todd Rowell. “The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to working together to find people who would harm our children.”

According to the sheriff's office, the following people were arrested and booked into the Mesa County Detention Facility:

  • Michael Martinez, 27, of Clifton, Colorado, for criminal attempt to patronize a prostituted child
  • Jimmy Cox, 62, of Roswell, New Mexico, for soliciting for child prostitution, criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years at least four year difference in age
  • Anthony Veal of Rossville, Georgia, for soliciting for child prostitution, criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years at least four year difference in age
  • Marshal McNeill, 41, of Grand Junction for soliciting for child prostitution, criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years at least four year difference in age
  • Alex Williamson, 25, of Grand Junction for criminal attempt to patronize a prostituted child
  • Corey Randle, 37, of Grand Junction for two counts of soliciting for child prostitution, two counts of attempted sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years at least four year difference in age, possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance, prohibited use of a weapon, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Israel Avalos-Villa, 40, of Telluride was arrested with the help of the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office for soliciting for child prostitution, internet sexual exploitation of a child, internet luring of a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, criminal attempt of sexual assault and cyber crime. He is currently being held at the San Miguel County Jail.

According to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office, Avalos-Villa exchanged roughly 270 text messages with undercover officers for over 36 hours. Police pretended to be a mother prostituting her 13 and 14-year-old daughters. Avalos-Villa allegedly made arrangements to have the two girls travel from Grand Junction to Telluride to perform sexual acts with him for compensation, the sheriff's office said.

Tipsters can report suspected child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.