MISSOULA COUNTY - A sting operation that targeted sexual predators was announced Friday in Missoula.
Seven people were arrested after law enforcement posted fake ads on Craigslist and Backpage.com advertising sex with an underage girl.
Officers posed as a woman offering up a 12-year-old girl for sex in text messages and phone conversations.
Officials say the people arrested traveled to a residence in Missoula expecting to meet the girl, but instead found law enforcement officers waiting to take them into custody.
"We wanted to send a message, that if you post it, respond to a post of it, or send images across the internet, there's a good chance you're dealing with one of us, and that's the message we wanted to send," said Montana ICAC Task Force Coordinator Tim West.
The sting involved several law enforcement agencies working together including the Missoula Police and Missoula and Flathead County Sheriff's Departments, along with the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The suspects came from three counties in western Montana. There are six men and one woman. They range in age from 22 to 54.
The highest bail set in Justice Court was $75,000 for 54-year-old Neal Gray of Missoula. Investigators said Gray was taken into custody with various adult sex devices.
Fifty-four year old James Stewart Myers, reportedly of Superior, posted bail after he was arrested. He was the only suspect who appeared in court in person.
Thirty-six-year-old Chad Briggs bail was set at $25,000. The Bonner man's girlfriend appeared on a charge of conspiracy to commit sexual abuse of children.
Jenna Davis listed a Turah address. Her bail was set at $25,000.
Matthew Keith is the youngest suspect at age 22. His bail was set at $50,000.
Justin Walker of Hamilton's bail was set at $25,000.
None of the suspects are allowed contact with anyone under the age of 18.
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