Police have arrested and charged two men, one from Anacortes, the other from Oak Harbor, with Internet-related sex crimes.
The arrests were made late last month in a sting by the Skagit Multi-Agency Response Team (SMART), but not made public until the two men appeared in Superior Court in Mount Vernon.
Erickson Alan Powell, 27, and Timothy Neil Brandt, 35, pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges, including felony counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor and communication with a minor for immoral purposes, as well as a misdemeanor charge of third-degree attempted child rape.
SMART is a group of about 25 officials from Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley police departments, plus the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.
According to an affidavit, Powell, the Anacortes man, searched craigslist.com for people who wanted to hook up and have sex. Then, he exchanged emails with a detective who was posing as a 14 year old girl. Powell agreed via email to pay $50 for an hour of sex and another $50 for specific acts to be performed by the girl.
When he was arrested, he was carrying $100 and three condoms, but told detectives he wanted to talk to the girl about Jesus. He was released on $20,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Brandt, the Oak Harbor man, faced similar charges. when he was arrested, he was carrying $50 in cash, two bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and a package of condoms.
This was the second sting operation by SMART. An earlier one last year resulted in more arrests.