Craigslist Sting Operation Fails for Huntington Beach Police
Many people find Craigslist as a useful tool to provide unique services, but the Huntington Beach Police Department has recently discovered that Craiglist may have not been the best tool to use for a sting operation. According to the Orange County Register, in May of 2010, six men responded to a bogus Craigslist ad titled, “Hi wanta play with me 2nite – w4m (hb)”. The ad was placed by the Huntington Beach police to target Internet child predators.
One of the men was Gregory Ruiz Aguirre, age 53 of El Monte, whom was found guilty of three felonies including going to meet a minor for a lewd purpose. He was sentenced with five years of formal probation and any violation would incarcerate him for four years in state prison. In addition, Aguirre was to also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
However, the three-justice panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana recently overturned the case in favor of Aguirre. The court stated that he was entitled to a new trial because the previous court did not instruct the jury on entrapment defense. By not doing so, the case was in higher favor against Aguirre and overlooked details that provided evidence that the police officer was possibly working illegitimately.
For instance, the initial post on Craigslist did not mention that the woman who submitted the post was 13 years old. It was not until after the men had responded to the ad that the undercover police officer sent out a private message saying, “Hi im Jess, Im 13 yrs old and looking to make some $ in exchange for stuff”. Although Aguirre decided to pursue communication with the undercover police officer, he did ask for a picture of Jess, of which they sent an image of a full and attractive female.
Thus, the justices felt that between Jess’s initiation of sexually explicit conversation and Aguirre’s denial in believing Jess was really 13, the police were luring law-abiding citizens into a trap that they would not normally be persuaded into. In result, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is in the process of reviewing the decision and creating an action plan to carry out in the near future.
Do you feel that Aguirre was a victim of entrapment? Do you think that the police should be allowed to place fake ads to attract who they feel are criminals? Or do you think that placing these ads is definitely entrapment, any way you look at it? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
At the Law Offices of Glew & Kim, we see all clients as innocent until proven guilty, and believe in equal justice for all. If you or someone you know has been involved in a crime and needs honest, unbiased defense, please call us immediately on 714-713-4525 or use our online form for a free case analysis.
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This is not an attorney-client communication, and as such no advice is being offered in this article. Any and all communications related to the Glew & Kim Law website should be deemed and considered advertisement. This article is purely opinion, and the basis of this and any opinion was formed subject to the reporting by the actual news agencies, the information from which was used as source material.