A man who identified himself as a tourist from China is the third person arrested in an undercover sting operation that Las Vegas police say targeted people who solicited a juvenile online for sex.
Tianyi Zhang, 28, has been charged with felony counts of soliciting a child for prostitution and luring a child with a computer for a sex act, according to Las Vegas Justice Court records. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his defense attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.
A Las Vegas police arrest report indicates that the suspect was arrested March 15 at a hotel room in the valley. A police vice detective wrote in the report that the sting involved police posting an online prostitution advertisement “that had numerous photos of what appeared to be a young child.” The advertisement indicated that the youth was available for sex and listed a phone number to contact for more information.
Police said that on the same day, at 10 p.m., an officer posing as the youth received a text message from a phone number with a Los Angeles area code. The officer and the texter started a conversation in which the officer told the texter that the child in the advertisement was 15.
“The sex buyer continued to engage in conversation with the decoy after the age was revealed,” police wrote in the report.
The officer set up a rendezvous with the potential sex buyer at an area motel room. Police said the suspect subsequently showed up at the hotel room and was arrested. Upon encountering police, detectives said, the suspect told them he was just there for a date.
“Zhang stated that he was here on vacation from Beijing and left his passport at the Rio hotel and casino,” police wrote.
Detectives then went to the Rio and confirmed the suspect’s room registration and passport information. Police also said that when they called the cellphone number of the potential sex buyer, the suspect’s phone started buzzing. He had $380 cash and five condoms in his possession, police said.
“Zhang stated that he only wanted to ‘cuddle’ and ‘kiss,’” police said. “Zhang apologized for contacting a 15-year-old but felt that he didn’t do anything wrong.”
A preliminary hearing in the case is set for May 3. Also arrested in the same vice sting under similar circumstances were Joshua Eshe, 32, and Juan Andino-Silva, 44, both of Las Vegas. All three suspects are facing the same charges, according to court records.