Four arrested in Marathon County as part of sex sting - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Four arrested in Marathon County as part of sex sting

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Four men have been arrested in Marathon County. This, as part of a region-wide online sex sting to protect children.

Investigators said this is their third operation in less than a year.

Marathon County Sheriff's deputies said 16 people were arrested. They said these type of investigations are becoming more important because more children and more predators are going online.

The internet has become a battleground. A place where parents and police fight to keep children safe.

"You have individuals looking for children, on a consistent basis and they're putting ads out there that possibly could lure a child in," said Jim Valley, Door County Sheriff's Detective.

Investigators have spent much of the last year watching the web.

In three separate investigations, officials from Marathon County and other departments in our region, have taken part. The latest sting, called "Operation Black Veil II".

"There are individuals out there that are preying on our children and taking advantage of these type of opportunities through the internet," said Scott Parks, Marathon County Sheriff.

This time, Marathon County Sheriff's deputies arrested four men. Three of them already face charges linked to online child sex crimes.

Investigators said they were all looking for underage girls.

"Some of these people would even send graphic pictures of their genitalia and so forth and they were sending those pictures thinking they were sending it to a 15-year-old," said Chris Neuville, Door County Sheriff's Department.

Investigators across the region found a dozen others.

"That people are willing to meet children in our jurisdiction, it surprised me a lot," said Capt. Greg Bean, Marathon County Sheriff's Department.

Marathon County Sheriff's deputies said more children are surfing the web, unsupervised, and predators are waiting.

"That is a concern, not only for law enforcement, but should be a concern to society as a whole," said Parks.

But what many of them, caught in this sting, didn't know, was who was on the other side.

Officials said the first online sex sting investigation was in October 2012.

Investigators said their priority is stopping predators from ever contacting a child in the first place.

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Four people have been arrested in Marathon County as part of a region-wide online sex sting.

The investigation, called "Operation Black Veil II" is focused on nabbing online predators looking for children.

Sheriff's deputies said this time all four people were men looking for underage girls.

Multiple agencies in our area were part of the investigation.

Marathon County Sheriff's officials said this is the third operation focused on online child sex crimes.

Investigators said the first two operations end with a number of arrests.

Sheriff's deputies said this time, 16 people were arrested throughout the region.

During the investigation, Marathon County Sheriff's officials said they arrested Robert Spreeman, 28. He now faces charges linked to online child sex crimes.

Wausau Police also helped in the investigation.

Investigators said the department arrested Pravong Thongdara, 21, and Shayd Mitchell, 23. Both also face charges linked to online child sex crimes.

Wausau Police also said they arrested Brian Uttecht, 39, for soliciting a prostitute.

Officials tell Newsline 9 this operation came together in 2012 as a way to protect children.

Marathon County Sheriff's officers said unsupervised online use has increased over the years and more predators are logging on.

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