Shannon Co. Sheriff’s Office announces another arrest in coordinated sting targeting child predators
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Shannon County Sheriff’s Office has announced another arrest in a coordinated sting targeting child predators.
At least three men accused of targeting children for sex have been arrested since August. Martin Kester, 34, of West Plains was arrested Thursday for attempting to meet for sex with a 13-year-old girl in Eminence, the sheriff’s office announced Sunday.
Authorities say two others were previously busted after a group of truckers pretended to be young girls online, and set up a meeting. The group, Truckers Against Predators, exposed the men on Facebook live for more than 100,000 followers.
According to the sheriff’s office, Kester communicated with a person who portrayed themselves as a teenage girl, but was involved with Truckers Against Predators. A Shannon County deputy joined the conversation undercover.
The sheriff’s office says Kester intended to meet a teenage girl after he left work on Thursday, Sept. 10. Upon arrival to a destination, Kester was confronted by a T.A.P. crew frontman in a live stream video.
Kester was taken into custody and sent to Shannon County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office. He is being held on a $50,000 cash bond and was charged for felony enticement of a child.
Authorities have also confirmed the arrests of Jefferson Rippe, a Springfield man, and Richard Holford, a Birch Tree man, in the sting. Shannon County Sheriff Darrin Brawley believes the charges will hold up in court, and the trials against both men will set precedents for the state.
Sheriff Brawley says his smaller department doesn’t have the manpower or resources to coordinate these efforts and he’s grateful for the effort of Truckers Against Predators. The group hopes to work with more agencies in the future to expose more pedophiles, collect convictions and ultimately, make Missouri a safer state.
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