Meet the man who pretends to be young girl online to put sex predators in jail | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) – 80,000. That’s how many kids were targeted by online sexual predators across the united states in 2022, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. But it’s not just a national problem, West Virginia is in the top 5 states in the country for at-risk youth.

Statistics like those led one man to start cleaning up the streets himself by working with law enforcement and pretending to be a young girl online to help carry out sting operations of men who message girls on the internet for sex.

5 News set out to learn more about him and the organization he has started to put predators behind bars.

His name is Olive Hugh.

For the past four years, Hugh has dedicated himself to protecting children online. He’s not a detective — he’s not even employed by a police department. He does this work through the use of undercover Facebook accounts.

Hugh uses multiple so-called “decoy accounts,” pretending to be girls between the ages of 12 to 16.

“2020, I was reading an article about like due to the lockdowns, there has been a lot of online predators active,” Hugh said. “So, I was like, you know what? Let’s see if it’s true. It all just snowballed from there.”

Hugh is responsible for putting dozens of child predators behind bars, and his work has expanded all the way to West Virginia. That includes in Braxton County where Prosecutor Dwayne Vandevender says Hugh’s work has been instrumental to his department.

“With his cases, the jobs pretty easy,” Vandevander told 5 News. “When he sends the chat logs, it’s pretty cut and dry what’s happened. He’s batting a thousand for us as far as convictions and it is truly easy to present these cases and deal with them.”

Hugh doesn’t get paid for doing this, but it takes up most of his time.

That begs the question – why does he put so much work into something he personally doesn’t get anything out of?

“It makes me feel accomplished,” Hugh responded. “At the same time, for the victims, I’m glad their getting a sense of justice.”

While Hugh finds a sense of accomplishment with each successful sting, the process isn’t a straight shot to the finish line. There are obstacles in his way.

According to West Virginia law, in order to prosecute solicitation of a minor, investigations must be executed or overseen by law enforcement officers. That means in order for Hugh to continue his investigations, an officer is also monitoring the chats between hue and a possible offender.

For Vandevender, Hugh is something unlike he’s ever seen in over 20 years in law enforcement. “I’ll say this,” he began. “I don’t encourage anyone to do this. He’s sort of the exception to the rule. I don’t know how he got so good at it, but he does it correctly. This is the first time I’ve seen someone other than law enforcement do it.”

Most of the time, that evidence can be hard to look at. Olive is subject to vulgar content, messages, and even calls on a regular basis. And on top of that, he works all hours of the night chatting with these men. It can be taxing on his mental state, so he finds ways to cope.

“Every day, when I’m talking to child predators and I get too uncomfortable, I call up a friend,” Hugh says. “I’m still talking to the child predators, while talking to my friend. That way, it kind of detaches me from feeling that sense of discomfort while I’m doing these investigations.”

The news of Olive deciding to pretend to be an underage girl on Facebook didn’t come without some raised eyebrows. Hugh’s friend Emma says she was taken aback by the decision.

“It was a bit of a shock,” Emma told us. “It’s not really like, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about this and I’m going to go do it.’ To have that idea and to execute it, especially with the law and doing it right, in a way they can be prosecuted. I thought it was a lot, I really did.”

“If you can imagine having to talk to a child predator and pretend to be that child everyday, I can’t imagine the mental toll it takes on him.” Vandevander added. “We don’t recommend other people do this.”

Even through the hard times, the results are evident. Olive has helped put 66 men behind bars that thought they were talking to and potentially meeting underage girls for sex. His success rate has gotten the attention of other people as well — something Hugh has started to refer to as Operation Juicebox.

Hugh’s social media accounts have over 50 thousand followers combined who watch him as he conducts his set-ups.

His followers regularly comment juice box emojis under the posts of men Hugh has helped put away, creating a de-facto community of people encouraging him to keep going – to keep getting more arrests.

And despite the hardships, the vulgar messages, the arrests, and the following, Hugh has a unique prescriptive on his mission.

“I lived the lives of so many teenage girls,” Hugh says. “It’s kind of weird when it’s put that way, but that’s just how it is, that’s just how it has to be.”

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