DATE/TIME: Friday, January 13, 2023
INCIDENT: PC 288.2(a)(2) Sending Harmful Matter to Seduce Minors
PC 288.3 Online Enticement
PC 288.4 Arranging to Meet a Minor for the Purpose of Committing a Sex Crime
LOCATION: San Bernardino, San Bernardino County
SUSPECT: James Wessley Rankin, 46-years-old, Resident of St. Louis, Missouri
SUMMARY: During the first week of January 2023, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Specialized Investigations Division Crimes Against Children Detail and the Los Angeles Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) participated in an undercover chat operation.
During the investigation, James Wesley Rankin responded to a posting on an anonymous chat site by an undercover detective with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Rankin initiated a conversation with the detective, who was pretending to be a 14-year-old girl. Rankin sent obscene material and began making plans to pick the teen up from her home.
Investigators discovered Rankin was in Missouri while he communicated with the undercover detective. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Taskforce was informed of the operation and agreed to assist with the investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, James Rankin was arrested by federal agents in Missouri.
At the time of the arrest, Rankin was actively engaged in an online conversation with the undercover detective.
Rankin was listed on Missouri’s sex offender registry and was recently released after serving a prison term for statutory rape.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Detective Wendy Winegar of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Crimes Against Children Detail at (909) 890-4904. Detectives believe there may be additional victims and are releasing Rankin’s photograph. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or leave information on the We-Tip website at www.wetip.com.
Refer: Detective Wendy Winegar
Station: Crimes Against Children
Case No. DR# 602300004