America’s self-described toughest sheriff has issued a warning to the CEO of Craigslist saying the popular Internet website is providing a “mechanism to facilitate criminal activity.”
Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s warning to Jim Buckmaster follows the arrest last month in Arizona by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detectives of two men — one a middle school teacher and the other a handyman — on charges of conspiracy to commit bestiality.
Sheriff Arpaio said an undercover investigation by his office began after detectives became aware that persons in the Phoenix area were using Craigslist to engage in illegal acts with animals. Detectives set up meetings through computer communications where the suspects believed they were meeting animal owners at a hotel.
“I would hope that Mr. Buckmaster takes my advice seriously and looks into our concerns,” Sheriff Arpaio said. “I think it is sad that people would utilize technology to take advantage of animals like this.”
Although bestiality may not be illegal in other states, the sheriff was instrumental in making the offense a crime in Arizona in 2006.
Craigslist did not respond to questions sent by e-mail to the company and to its public relations spokeswoman.
The men arrested in February — handyman Keith Kiefer, 47, of Mesa, and middle school music teacher Patrick Trejo, 25, of Phoenix — were accused of using Craigslist.org to connect with dog owners offering their dogs for sexual gratification with humans.
Sheriff Arpaio said his deputies later learned that a number of people used the website to communicate with others who had an interest in bestiality. He said detectives discovered that a secret language was being used to hide the suspects’ plans.
According to court documents, a detective posing as a dog owner responded to a posting Mr. Kiefer listed on Craigslist. They exchanged e-mails in which Mr. Kiefer allegedly asked for a photo of the male dog’s sexual organ. He received it and responded by saying he “liked it very much,” the court records show.
In his letter to Craigslist, Sheriff Arpaio said the investigation of “several others” was ongoing and that the website had provided “the forum for these individuals to post, in a very blatant manner, their intentions.”
The sheriff noted that it was clear that the “self-policing protocol Craigslist relies upon to prevent this activity is inadequate.” He said while the website was not committing a criminal act, it was “undoubtedly providing a mechanism to facilitate obvious criminal activity.”