Police today are increasingly using sting operations to catch child predators. As the Academy Award-winning film The Sting made clear, these kind of undercover sting operations are complex and tricky. On the other hand, law enforcement experts point out that well-designed stings typically have high conviction rates.
In a recent example of a successful police sting, authorities in Henrico, Virginia say they have arrested 54-year-old Louis Ponterio on charges of trying to have sex with a five-year-old girl.
In this case, Ponterio believed he had made a deal for a meet up with a woman and her five-year-old daughter at the Econo Lodge in town, but when the child predator showed up, he was immediately swarmed and arrested by undercover agents.
“Members of the Henrico County Police Division’s Vice Unit received information that Ponterio had attempted to procure a minor for the purpose of a sexual relationship,” Henrico Police spokesman Lt. Chris Eley noted in a recent press conference.
Eley went on: “On February, 6th, 2015, Ponterio communicated with an individual who he believed was arranging an encounter with a minor. On February 7th, 2015, Ponterio was arrested in the 5200 block of Williamsburg Road after he traveled to Henrico County with intent to engage in sexual activity with a minor."
A local TV station is reporting that police also seized marijuana, a teddy bear, cough syrup, Hershey’s kisses, a sex toy and other items from Ponterio and his vehicle.
In addition, police note that a search of Ponterio’s home led to the discovery of marijuana, weapons, and important digital evidence.
Of note, Ponterio is in jail without bond awaiting trial. He is looking at criminal charges including carrying a concealed weapon, electronic means for procuring minors, object sexual penetration by force, sale, and distribution of marijuana, forcible intercourse with a victim under 13, as well as prostitution.
Photo: WTVR 6