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Former San Diego Sheriff’s sergeant charged after allegedly trying to meet minors for sex

Disturbing details are outlined in documents in support of an arrest warrant
Posted at 5:34 PM, May 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-31 22:44:02-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former San Diego Sheriff’s sergeant who was caught in a sting operation by a vigilante group has been charged after allegedly trying to meet up with 15-year-old boys for sex.

Court documents obtained by ABC 10News show Luis Rios was charged last month with attending an arranged illicit meeting with a minor, contact of a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense and arranging to meet a minor for lewd/lascivious behavior.

Rios, who had been working for the sheriff’s department since 1996, parted ways with the force last March after the allegations surfaced in a YouTube video posted by a group known as People V. Preds.

In a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, a San Diego police officer with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force outlined what she had gathered from the citizens group.

She also documented what she learned in an interview with Rios and explained how she found a contact saved in the sergeant’s phone with a number that was used as a decoy by the People V. Preds.

"Rios continuously engaged in a chat with two people he believed were fifteen years old. Even after learning of the age and noting that the person was a minor and making statements that he didn't want to go to jail, he still initiated chats and initiated different "meet-ups,” wrote Officer Crystal Duerr.

The People V. Preds. group began chatting with Rios online in 2021 and set up a meeting at a McDonald’s parking lot in Mission Valley last March where the person posing as a 15-year-old boy confronted Rios.

The conversations between Rios and the person behind the decoy account posing as a 15-year-old boy were explicit in nature and are detailed extensively in court documents.

Criminal defense attorney David Shapiro looked at the documents and said this is going to be a tough case to defend.

"What we've also seen in this instance is an admission to a large degree in that yeah, I was the person that was speaking to this individual. I believed that they were under the age of 18."

He said prosecutors can use evidence from vigilante groups but would prefer to have their own.

“They do a lot of good work in the sense of trying to keep people off the streets or prevent certain things like this from happening to real people to real minors … but from a prosecutor's perspective they'd much rather have it be law enforcement working with them side by side," Shapiro said.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said an internal investigation into Rios was completed last year but the result of the probe is confidential under state law. Rios was not on the job when he allegedly met the minor.

Sheriff's Department Lieutenant David LaDieu said even a former employee with charges such as these “deeply frustrate the sheriff.”

“The charges you mention are serious in nature and we hold the members of this department to a standard fitting of the position we hold. Our core values define the expectations we have of our employees and we take the mission of providing law enforcement services to the County of San Diego very seriously and we expect every employee to follow policy and the law,” LaDieu said.

The DA’s office said Rios has not yet been arraigned.