A group of vigilante dads lured a man to a Walmart in Fremont, Ohio, on Tuesday morning by posing as a 14-year-old boy.
They then confronted the man on video and posted the footage online, where it went viral.
“You’re a pedophile. You’re a predator,” one of the dads, Joshua Mundy, can be heard saying to the man, who is identified only as Rafael. “You’re doing things in my town that we don’t f— around with.”
“This man came here to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex!” Mundy shouts as he follows Rafael into the parking lot and films the license plate of the red Chevrolet he is driving.
After law enforcement officials saw the video, they arrested Rafael Valadez-Loera, 39, and held him in federal custody.
However, Valadez-Loera did not face charges for underage sex crimes. Instead, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Detroit said he violated his immigration status by engaging in criminal activity that endangers public safety. Although he was in the country legally on a tourist visa, Valadez-Loera could be deported.
Mundy told ABC 13 that it took less than an hour of messaging Valadez-Leora on the dating app Tinder to arrange a meeting. He saved the chats and later handed them over to police.
“Catching bad guys,” Mundy said.
The Detroit Border Patrol office did not immediately respond to Pluralist request for more information about Valadez-Leora’s case.
Dads Against Predators
Fremont police confirmed to WTOL 11 that Valadez-Loera had agreed to meet with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy after exchanging sexually explicit messages. The police suggested Mundy had done a public service but cautioned the public against vigilante justice.
“We appreciate the awareness this incident brings to this problem, however we do not condone citizens taking matters into their own hands,” they said in a statement. “Children are of the utmost importance to our department and our community.”
Mundy and other members of his group — which calls itself “Dads Against Predators” — use fake dating profiles of 14-year-old boys and girls to catch men looking for underage sex. Munday said their activities are not illegal and he has no plans to stop.
“I’ve caught three people in 24 hours that were here to meet and to take home a 14-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, and I don’t know what they’ve done in the past few years, but in 24 hours that I’ve done this I’ve caught three people,” he said.
“I’m just going to continue to do it and make sure that I’m going to do it until nobody else messages me back.”
Dads Against Predators has since posted videos of two more busts to their YouTube page.