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Vigilante group snares alleged would-be child molester at East Boston T stop; police say thanks, but next time, leave the law enforcement to them

Transit Police report arresting a Chelsea man at the Orient Heights Blue Line stop whom they say was there to meet a 14-year-old boy for some sexual activity - but who turned out to be a member of a Massachusetts group that sets up stings to ensnare men they say are child predators.

Transit Police were not in on the operation Tuesday night by Predator Poachers Massachusetts, but dispatched officers to the station around 10:45 p.m. to deal with a reported "disturbance:"

Upon arrival officers were met by a male who informed the officers he produces an internet series in which he catches child predators. The reporting male party pointed out a male, later identified as Jose Hernandez, 36, of Chelsea and informed the officers Hernandez was there to meet, who he (Hernandez) believed was a 14 year old boy to engage in sexual activity with. The reporting male party showed the officers numerous incriminating and explicit text messages exchanged between Hernandez and who he (Hernandez) believed was a minor child. The reporting male party also displayed explicit photos allegedly sent by Hernandez to who he (Hernandez) believed was a minor child.

After "additional investigatory steps," the officer arrested Hernandez on a charge of enticement of a minor child under 16, police say.

Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan said he has mixed emotions about the way the arrest happened. "Although I appreciate the spirit in which they undertake their efforts, I feel it would be best left to professionally trained law enforcement," Sullivan said.

The group's leader, Jason Santana, poses as a 14-year-old boy online to try to arrange hookups with men. If a man agrees to a meeting, the group then sends one person to confront him - and another to video the interaction.

Last year, the group posted a video showing the police chief in Stow being confronted in such a sting. The case was continued without a finding for three years; he was ordered to stay away from children under 16 without permission.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

Thank you for your service. Next stop Back Bay station where perverts outnumber passengers.

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Voting closed 49

I wonder what a competent defense attorney will do with this.
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A TV host setting up a snare & then calling in police, or a tv host becoming aware of a potential predator and calling the proper authorities to investigate?

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Voting closed 23

"Don't threaten my phoney baloney job."

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Voting closed 16

"Don't pull stupid shit that risks getting a criminal case thrown out on a motion by a halfway competent lawyer."

Yes, they got lucky with the Stow police chief (who, mind you, was not convicted, if he can control himself for three years, the charge will be thrown out), but judges are big fans of stuff like due process. And your larger police departments have detectives who specialize in stuff like child predators.

Also, the sort of person who would prey on a 14-year-old might be more likely than your average citizen to not take kindly to being stung like this. One of their videos, filmed at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, in fact shows their target taking a swing at and running after Santana (I assume it is); he is lucky he's skinny and seemingly in shape while the other guy, well, he was barely in condition to catch his breath, let alone somebody running away from him.

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Voting closed 31

I'm gonna guess someone who "produces an internet series" has mixed motives, and is not the best possible person to be investigating crime, much less enticing people into committing crimes. His interest is in his "internet series" first and foremost.

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Voting closed 18

Where do they think they are - Texas?

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Voting closed 12

In Texas the predator could rape and impregnate the 14 year old girl, then collect a bounty when her parents took her out of state to get an abortion.

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Voting closed 22