Predator Poachers child sex sting leads to Port St. Lucie arrest | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

A Port St. Lucie man was arrested Thursday night with the assistance of an online group dedicated to helping law enforcement capture people committing child sex crimes, the city’s police department reported.

The Port St. Lucie Police Department (PSLPD) explained Friday that the organization Predator Poachers had been in contact with the suspect since September when he reportedly messaged the account of a group member posing as a 13-year-old girl named “Lilly.”

The suspect, Rodney Hickman, continued messaging the bogus account over the past four months, the organization told investigators. At one point, Hickman allegedly included a sexually graphic photograph in one of his DMs. According to PSLPD, Hickman admitted he was 27 years old in one of the messages, while the person posing as “Lilly” claimed to be 13.

The exchanges continued until they agreed to meet Thursday night along a residential stretch of SE Hillmoor Drive, west of SE Grand Drive, the police department alleges. Officers were called to the scene around 9:15 p.m., where they reported finding members of the Predator Poachers, a camera crew, and the suspect.

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Hickman was taken into custody and booked into the St. Lucie County jail on counts of obscene communication – traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child and cruelty towards a child – transmitting information harmful to minors. His phone was also seized, and investigators plan to search it.

While the Predator Poachers’ actions did lead to an arrest, PSLPD Chief Richard Del Toro discouraged them and other similarly motivated people or groups from running stings like these. He pointed out such actions could lead to violence against the individuals involved or the public at large. Also, Del Toro continued, taking those steps could end up leading to a suspect getting away with the crime because proper protocols were not followed.

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