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Photo: Ryan Kelley/QNS
Tony Blas stands in the street on July 12 near one of the spots where he confronts sexual predators.

In one of his most popular Facebook Live videos, Queens resident Tony Blas talks to his thousands of viewers as he searches for his latest target: a 27-year-old man attempting to meet up with a 15-year-old girl.

Blas, 36, finds the man sitting on a railing in front of the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues subway station on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. Just before confronting him, Blas stretches his neck, takes a deep breath, then lights a cigarette. Although he has been executing independent sting operations to catch sexual predators in the act for two months now, his anxiety in these moments never goes away, he says.

After this particular video caught the attention of the local community and quickly gained hundreds of thousands of views, Blas sat down with QNS on July 12 to explain his desire to expose these “sickos,” as he calls them.

“My biggest thing is exposing these people to the public, letting them know who they are,” Blas said. “I don’t call them predators and child predators and perverts and pedophiles because I’m not the judge and the jury, they haven’t been convicted of anything … but on my side, I’ve seen what this man’s intent was.”

Originally from Brooklyn, Blas is a plumber who works 15-hour days to support his wife and 5-year-old daughter, and protecting the girls in his life certainly plays a role in his busts, he said. But Blas is also a survivor who was molested as a child and he knows several people who have had online encounters with predators, so that drove him to create a profile on an app called Tagged.

Blas pretended that he was a preteen girl, he said, and men started messaging him almost instantly. If the number of men who were contacting him were all infected with a disease instead, the Center for Disease Control would declare it an outbreak and quarantine the neighborhood, Blas said.

At this point, however, Blas was still in the research phase. He wanted to be thorough and make sure he could approach these men without breaking any laws.

In fact, he has spoken to police on many occasions to be sure that he isn’t doing anything illegal, and he has tried to establish a working relationship with them, he said. Collaborating with a civilian in these cases is difficult for police because it involves the civilian gathering all of the evidence through online chat logs, Blas explained.

When officers once confronted him while he was wandering the neighborhood about to make a bust, however, Blas said their handshakes spoke volumes after he explained what he was doing.

“Very rarely do cops give you handshakes,” Blas said. “That’s like the payday of the year, especially when you get it from them.”

His relationship with the law was not always that civil, and that fuels his desire to serve street justice as well, Blas said. He is an ex-convict who served a few short stints in prison for petty crime and drug-related charges. He is also a recovering drug addict, Blas said.

He hasn’t been back to prison in three years, and he has been drug-free for the same amount of time. Although he is still in the process of turning his life around, Blas said his street side is where he draws his confidence from when confronting one of his targets.

Yet, he is considerate of the fact that so many people are watching his videos, so he won’t resort to violence and he tries to filter what he says while on the air, he said.

“This is not something that I just want people to view for entertainment; it’s something I want them to view for knowledge. I want your kids to watch this,” Blas said. “I’m trying to learn how to keep it as clean as I can and as professional as I can, while you’re standing in front of a guy two feet away from you who is willing to have sex with a child.”

Blas has now turned his passion into a full-blown operation. He has enlisted the help of eight women who serve as “decoys” that post ads online and communicate with potential predators. They use 12 different messaging apps and have many different strategies to avoid suspicion.

When someone knowingly states their sexual intentions or sends explicit photos to a decoy who has clearly identified themselves as being a minor, that’s when Blas knows he can attempt the bust. The predators don’t always show up, and it doesn’t always go as expected when they do, but Blas always makes his own intentions clear in his videos.

“This is to raise awareness to the parents,” Blas said. “I want parents to know and to think that when 20 minutes has gone by, when a half-hour has gone by and you haven’t looked at your child and what they’re doing online, to take that one second to look. You never know, you just might pick up that phone, and there that guy is.”


Join The Discussion

Andrew Zenyuch July 22, 2018 / 07:33AM
Seems to me John Anderson that you're the only one who is speaking negative about someone who is serving the interest of friends and family. Just because you can't get your act together doesn't mean you can rain on someone's parade. I know of 2 people who I was once close to and they are both sex offenders. Now, upon their release they will run into a wall. I AM THAT WALL! As it stands there are 2 idiots who are miserable and try to make other people's lives miserable. Those are the people who have no lives, no friends, and their backyard is filthy! CLEAN UP YOUR BACKYARD BEFORE YOU CLEAN UP SOMEONE ELSE'S!!! Tony, Keep up the diligent work! Forget about the keyboard gangsters. They hide like roaches and they're nothing but cowards!

Jennifer Penelope LeBlanc July 21, 2018 / 12:18PM
Tony is awesome for doing this. He is a hard working man, and is sticking up for the rights of kids who cant defend themselves. He is a fine upstanding dude. We need this in EVERY TOWN. Exposure is the biggest way to keep these people from hurting someone. If everyone around them knows to be careful. He is saving kids!

Marnita Nita July 19, 2018 / 09:20PM
I absolutely love what Tony has been doing! He is so passionate about this topic & it shines through in each live he does on FB. There will always be the ppl in the background trying to bring evil into something that’s good. Just keep pushing forward. There’s thousands who support & love what Tony does! Keep on keeping the kids safe!

Bethany Redwine July 19, 2018 / 05:22PM
these guys do AMAZING work and its just sad that people can be arrested on the spot for a dime bag of weed yet these sick freaks preying on our children get to walk away with ALL the evidence gathered on them.... OUR LAWS NEED CHANGED ON THIS. also, anyone who hates on these guys for doing what they do OBVIOUSLY has something to hide themselves. Just saying!!

Randy Lewis July 19, 2018 / 02:18PM
Seems Mr. Anderson is trying to get back at Tony here because Mr. Anderson has been rejected by everyone who is in the chasing business now!! That's to bad!! John could have been somebody if he would have kept his head in the game.... Great article Tony!!

Mandy Becs July 19, 2018 / 02:34PM
I run a UK based group and when I recently visited New York, I had the pleasure of attending a street confrontation with Tony, his professionalism is second to none and we support what he does while heartedly. I am looking forward to the day he comes to the UK and attends some of our stings!

John Anderson July 19, 2018 / 12:29PM
Tony is connected to convicted pedophile John Aster who plead guilty to over 15,000 images of child porn. Tony has been called out by real pedo busters. Such as Bikers United Against Child Abuse. Tony Blas is and always will be a pro pedo in hiding. Media, if you need proof contact me. Seems the media should do a much better job investigating as they are promoting pedo scum right now.

Carolyn Schutter July 19, 2018 / 10:12AM
This man is oustanding he has made me aware of what is out there on line n how we need harder laws for these freaks that our after children.

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