ST. GEORGE — A Minnesota man was arrested Thursday for allegedly attempting to lure a teenage boy for sex in St. George during a human trafficking operation conducted under the authority of the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
On Wednesday, special agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted a two-day proactive human trafficking operation in St. George that resulted in the arrest of 59-year-old Joseph Gendreau.
Special Agent Joseph Shuler wrote in charging documents filed with 5th District Court in support of the arrest that Gendreau used the the internet platform Grindr to lure what he believed to be a 16-year-old boy to come and live with him.
During the sting operation the suspect reportedly told the purported teen he liked “yunger” males and went on to say that he had let another 16-year-old live with him. The report also states the suspect discussed a variety of sexual acts the two could engage in.
The messages continued for several hours, during which the suspect said he was a long-haul truck driver and had broken down in St. George and was staying at America Best Inn and Suites in St. George while repairs were being made. He allegedly offered the youth an Xbox console, food and shelter if he would move in with the suspect and engage in a number of sexual acts with him.
Instead of the purported teen showing up, agents arrived at the motel where they found the suspect on the second floor of the building and a 52-foot trailer in the rear parking lot of the establishment.
Agents also discovered that Gendreau had allegedly purchased the Xbox game console, condoms and other related items just 30 minutes prior to his arrest.
In addition to the Minnesota address, charging documents also show a West Jordan address for the suspect, and Richard Piatt, spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, told St. George News that a background check revealed Gendreau is a convicted sex offender out of Vermont.
Following the sting, Gendreau was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on second-degree felony human trafficking of a minor and three misdemeanor counts of enticement of minor using internet or text – charges that were filed late Thursday.
The Xbox console and items purchased prior to the arrest, along with the suspect’s cell phone and other communications devices allegedly used to lure the teen, were seized by investigators. The suspect is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Friday, and he remains in custody without bail.
Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
Formed in 2000, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional task force that operates under the authority of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and is one of 61 such task forces across the U.S. With so many internet crimes against children that cross state lines, the state affiliates of 100 officers, deputies and other law enforcement personnel work closely together to arrest those responsible.
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