Undercover operation arrests 10 internet sex predators in Mesa County
MESA COUNTY — A three-day operation in Mesa County has resulted in the arrest of 10 individuals for attempting to have sex with children or engage in prostitution, according to a news release from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators in the large-scale, multi-jurisdictional undercover operation posted ads for sex with children on several websites, social media sites, and applications.
As a result, the following people were arrested and booked into the Mesa County Detention Facility:
• Aaron Kenneth Tydingco Apatang, 22, of Grand Junction for the charges of internet luring of a child (Class 4 felony), internet sexual exploitation of a child (Class 4 felony), enticement of a child (Class 4 felony) and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child (Class 5 felony).
• Steven Bruckner, 35, of Grand Junction, for the charge of soliciting for child prostitution (Class 3 felony).
• Jason Gullion, 40, of Grand Junction, for the charges of two counts of criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years old with at least a four-year difference in age (Class 5 felony) and two counts of soliciting for child prostitution.
• Michael Duane Jones, 57, of Grand Junction, for two counts of soliciting for child prostitution; two counts of pandering a child (Class 5 felony); two counts of patronizing a prostituted child (Class 3 felony); two counts of criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child (Class 5 felony); two counts of possession of weapons by previous offenders (Class 6 felony); four counts of distribution, manufacturing, or possession with the intent to distribute between a half-ounce and half-pound of Schedule I/II drug or between a quarter-ounce or quarter-pound of meth, heroin, ketamine or cath or between 10 to 50 milligrams of FLU (Class 2 drug felony); and one count of a special circumstance of use, display, or possession on person or within reach of a deadly weapon during the offense (Class 1 drug felony).
• Terry Royster, 57, of Grand Junction, for the charges of soliciting for child prostitution and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child.
• Robert Louis Woodruff III, 34, of Gastonia, North Carolina, for the charges of internet luring of a child with intent of sexual contact exploitation (Class 4 felony), and criminal attempt of sexual assault on a child victim less than 15 years old with at least a four-year difference in age.
• Austin James Pierce, 20, was arrested on an active warrant for failure to appear. The warrant was issued related to his recent arrest from a Mesa County Sheriff’s Office case where the victim is 14 years old. Pierce was also charged with violation of a protection order for having communication with the victim in the sex assault case.
Three additional people were issued a summons to appear in court the Class 3 misdemeanor of prostitution: Dustin Kelleher, 40, of Fruita; Jennifer Smith, 49, of Clifton; and Kimberly Anderson, 40.
All arrestees are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“It’s important to know who you and your loved ones are engaging with online. Talking about the dangers of the internet should be an open dialog between parents and kids of all ages. For resources on internet safety, visit the Resources for Parents section of our website,” stated the release.
Arresting agencies included Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Junction Police Department, Palisade Police Department, Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, US Marshals Service, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
MCSO thanked local, state and federal partners for assisting in the operation and helping to protect the youth of Mesa County.
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According to the arrest affidavit, upon waking up and realizing a police officer was standing over him the male subject said, “Whoa, when did you get here?”