A 27-year-old man is in custody after police in Port St. Lucie said he was seeking sex with a 13-year-old girl, ensnared by a group known as the “Predator Poachers.”
The suspect, Rodney Hickman of Port St. Lucie, was arrested Thursday night and faces multiple charges in the case.
Police said the investigation began at about 9:17 p.m. when officers responded to the scene for a suspicious incident.
When they arrived, officers were met by Hickman and members of the “Predator Poachers,” an organization known for creating social media accounts and posing as minors online.
The “Predator Poachers” use these social media accounts to communicate with others and conduct sting operations on adults seeking sex with minors.
Investigations said the group set a time and location to meet and show up with their camera crew to confront the adult about meeting up with minors for sex. They will then notify law enforcement.
In this case, police said on Sept. 9, Hickman initiated a message to an Instagram account that posed as “Lilly,” a 13-year-old girl. However, the account was run by an adult with the “Predator Poachers.”
As the months went on, detectives said Hickman and “Lilly” began to text back and forth, with Hickman eventually sending a lewd photograph.
Investigators said the communication included texts back and forth where Hickman said he was 27 years old, and “Lilly” said she was 13 years old.
The texting eventually led to Hickman meeting up with “Lilly” Thursday night with the intention of a sexual encounter, according to police.
When Hickman arrived, detectives said he was confronted by the “Predator Poachers” group who then notified law enforcement.
Alex Rosen, the founder of “Predator Poachers, says Hickman admitted his intentions in an interview.
Police said the suspect’s phone was seized as evidence and will be forensically reviewed.
“The suspect was cooperative, and we were allowed to look at the phone and look at the messages,” acting Port St. Lucie Police Chief Richard Del Toro said.
Hickman faces one felony count of obscene communication — traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child — and one felony count of cruelty towards a…