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Seven men out of 20 arrested in Whatcom County sex sting arraigned, trials set

Seven men arrested in sting operation enter pleas at their arraignment

Steven Johnson, James Ortiz Jr., Dillon Lawson, Aaron Kinley, Jaime Anderson, Marc Archer and Chadwin Hagens plead not-guilty at their arraignment hearing on Friday, Dec. 22, at Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. The seven men were arrested
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Steven Johnson, James Ortiz Jr., Dillon Lawson, Aaron Kinley, Jaime Anderson, Marc Archer and Chadwin Hagens plead not-guilty at their arraignment hearing on Friday, Dec. 22, at Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. The seven men were arrested

Seven of the 20 men arrested in the undercover Washington State Patrol sting operation that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors last week pleaded not guilty Friday.

The remaining 13 men have arraignments scheduled for Dec. 29.

All 20 men were arrested in operation “Net Nanny,” which was conducted by the State Patrol’s Missing and Exploited Children Task Force. Three of the men had access to 13 children who were at risk of being abused, State Patrol said.

Some of the men are also being investigated on allegations of sexual misconduct with children. State Patrol will work closely with local law enforcement, who also assisted with the sting operation, to follow up on the allegations, WSP Lt. James Mjor said.

This is the 10th sting the State Patrol has conducted. A similar operation in the Tri-Cities last summer resulted in 26 arrests. In the last two years, there have been 159 arrests and 22 identified rescued child victims statewide. The agency has a 100 percent conviction rate on the cases that have gone to trial, according to the State Patrol.

Some of the men arrested in this sting had convictions for assault or lengthy criminal histories; others had no criminal history. Many of them had access to an assortment of weapons and showed up with them when they went to the meet-up – a new development for the State Patrol’s operations, Mjor said. Several also brought gifts for the children, court and police records show.

Undercover detectives posted or responded to Craigslist ads online advertising for meet-ups of a sexual nature, according to Mjor. Once the men responded, the detectives would either pose as young teenage children, or as parents offering up their young children for sexual contact – some as young as 6 years old.

Mjor said the operation targeted open-source pages, such as Craigslist, or websites that any kids could access.

Many of the men arrested used graphic descriptions of sex acts they wanted to perform with the children, or what they wanted the children to do to them, according to court papers filed in the case. Many also sent nude photos of themselves, according to the State Patrol.

Probable cause statements for all of those arrested detailed graphic sexual conversations between the men and undercover detectives. Once the conversations progressed, the undercover officer would give the men a location to drive to, and then a separate address. Once the men entered the house, they were arrested, court and police records show.

Twenty men in Whatcom and Skagit counties were caught in a sting operation this month that targeted internet predators attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors - part of the Washington State Patrol's ongoing "Net Nanny" operation.

The operation generated hundreds of responses, some from Canada, but the men who were arrested traveled to meet the undercover detectives with the intent to engage in sexual activity with the children, the State Patrol said.

The pleas and trial dates

Jaime Roberto Anderson: Anderson, 33, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted second-degree rape of a child and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Anderson pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for Feb. 12. Anderson remains in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Sting Arraignments 1
Jaime Anderson, center, Marc Archer, left, and Steven Johnson, right, are pictured at their arraignment on Friday, Dec. 22, at Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. Anderson, Archer, and Johnson are three of 20 men arrested in a sting operation targeting people attempting to solicit sexual contact with minors. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

Marc Vincent Archer: Archer, 60, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Archer pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for Feb. 12. Archer remains in jail on $20,000 bail.

Chadwin Alexander Hagens: Hagens, 24, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted first-degree child rape and attempted second-degree child rape. Hagens pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for April 23. Hagens was also allowed to leave Whatcom County to live with his parents in King or Pierce counties. Hagens bonded out Friday morning.

Steven William Johnson: Johnson, 45, of Bellingham, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree child rape and two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Johnson pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for Feb. 12. Johnson remains in jail on $70,000 bail.

Aaron Lee Kinley: Kinley, 26, of Bellingham, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Kinley pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for March 5. Kinley is free on $10,000 bail.

Dillon Russell Lawson: Lawson, 20, of Mount Vernon, is charged with one count of attempted first-degree child rape, one count of attempted second-degree child rape and two counts of attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor. Lawson pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for March 5. Lawson is free on $10,000 bail.

Sting Arraignments 2
Dillon Lawson pleads not guilty at his arraignment on Friday, Dec. 22, at Whatcom County Courthouse in Bellingham. Lawson is charged with attempted first-degree rape of a child, attempted second-degree rape of a child and attempted communication with a minor for immoral purposes. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

James Danny Ortiz Jr.: Ortiz, 24, of Everson, is charged with attempted second-degree child rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. Ortiz pleaded not guilty. His trial has been set for Feb. 12. Ortiz remains in jail on $10,000 bail.

Most of the remaining 13 men are charged with attempted child rape, attempted commercial sexual abuse of a minor and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. A few also have drug charges. They are expected to be arraigned Dec. 29 at 9 a.m.:

▪  Gilberto Chino Acatitlan, 28, of Bow.

▪  Jason Justin Lundberg, 43, of Ferndale.

▪  Matthew Allen Severson, 51, of Bellingham.

▪  Tanner Matthew Ness, 21, of Woodinville.

▪  Aaron A. Aguilar, 26, of Bellingham.

▪  Simson Duane Assink, 23, of Bellingham.

▪  Christopher M Brown, 39, of Bellingham.

▪  Mark Allen Fagin, 43, of Bellingham.

▪  David Lee Fissori Jr., 40, of Bellingham.

▪  Mark E. Garst, 57, of Deming.

▪  George Vincent Rickle Jr., 66, of Poulsbo.

▪  Jeffrey Adam Weinstein, 41, of Bellingham.

▪  George Milton Welch IV, 26, of Bellingham.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

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