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‘Extremely disturbing’: 5 men charged in child predator sting using decoys posing as 14 and 15 year olds

Trace Turkelson, William Copeland IV, Cody Ewing,  Tracy Fisher, and Otha Smith III (Canadian County Sheriff's Office)

Trace Turkelson, William Copeland IV, Cody Ewing,  Tracy Fisher, and Otha Smith III (Canadian County Sheriff’s Office)

Five men in Oklahoma have been arrested after law enforcement authorities conducted a four-day sting to catch child sex predators.

According to a news release from the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), the five suspects taken into custody include Trace Turkelson, 22, of Elgin; Cody Ewing, 27, of Yukon;  Tracy Fisher, 41, of Tulsa; William Copeland IV, 29, of Calhan, CO; and Otha Smith III, 37, of Linden, Texas.

The elaborate sting was a joint operation between CCSO and the nonprofit organization Safe from Online Sex Abuse (SOSA). It included using a decoy house the suspects allegedly believed was the home of girls ages 14 and 15.

Authorities say that SOSA provided the operation with two female actresses who acted as bait. They played the roles and communicated with the alleged predators. The communications included video chats, text messages, phone calls, and direct messages on social media platforms.

The alleged conversations with the suspects “escalated to sexually graphic conversations very quickly,” the sheriff’s office said.

The suspects are accused of sending nude photos to the decoys and “describing sex acts the arrestees desired to perform” with the purported girls. Several of the suspects are also accused of sending videos of themselves masturbating.

“The conversations with the predators were extremely disturbing, including fetish demands, using names such as Daddy, graphic sexual acts they planned on doing to the children, and one predator talking about breeding with the female child,” officials said. “All suspects were also worried about being caught by law enforcement, and some asked the decoys to do live chats to ensure they were real people.”

In addition to the decoy house, the sting included the use of hotels and restaurants that investigators say were selected by the suspects. Investigators said all five of the alleged predators cooperated with authorities and admitted to their intentions when they met these decoys.”

According to the sheriff’s office, Otha Smith traveled the farthest of the five suspects, driving about five hours to meet one of the decoy actresses at a hotel.

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said SOSA provided investigators with real-time communications with the alleged predators and other resources throughout the operation.

“This wasn’t the first time my office has worked with SOSA to apprehend child predators, and I hope they’ll continue to be available to assist with our child predator program in the future,” said West.

Those arrested were processed and booked at the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office Detention Facility on charges of facilitating sexual communication with a minor, lewd acts with a child under 16, intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance to a minor, and violations of the Oklahoma Computer Crimes Act.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.