A Duluth man faces felony charges after allegedly attempting to solicit sex from an underage girl.
Michael Robert Poukka, 32, was arrested Wednesday after authorities said he sent sexually explicit photos to and tried to solicit sex from an undercover Homeland Security Investigation special agent posing as a 14-year-old girl online. Poukka is now charged with one felony count of attempting to solicit a child for sex online and six counts of describing sexual conduct with a child online.
According to the criminal complaint, the special agent began communicating with Poukka via Skout, an online dating application, on Aug. 23, 2018. Poukka was told immediately that the profile he was interacting with was a 14-year-old female, the complaint said. On Aug. 28 and again on Sept. 12, Poukka sent sexually explicit photos to the undercover profile, the complaint said.
"Communications were had between the Defendant and the undercover profile for numerous weeks," the complaint said. "During that communication the context of the chats was clearly sexual. The defendant used sexually explicit terms with the undercover profile and actively solicited the undercover profile to engage in sexual intercourse with him."
On Jan. 17, the Homeland Security Investigation special agent then alerted a Duluth Police Department investigator assigned to the Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Poukka was arrested Jan. 30 at the Arrowhead Regional Corrections Office after meeting an officer there. According to the complaint, Poukka resisted the arrest as he was handcuffed "by pushing and locking up his arms" and is charged with obstructing the legal process.
Earlier in January, Poukka appeared in a live Facebook video by Predator Hunters USA, a group of vigilantes who pose as minors on the internet to establish contact with adults who try to solicit sex with them. The vigilantes then plan a meet up with the adults where they reveal they aren't actually minors. The confrontations are generally streamed to Facebook.
"Predator Hunters USA is a group of volunteers. Our mission is to Expose and let communities know about these sexual predators," according to a description on the Predator Hunters USA website.
In the video featuring Poukka, a Predator Hunters volunteer named Josh confronts Poukka in a parking lot where Poukka thinks he's going to rendezvous with a 15-year-old girl.
In the conversation lasting about about 3-and-a-half minutes, Poukka admits he told the 15-year-old girl that he was going to buy condoms.
Asked by Josh why he wanted to meet the girl, Poukka said, "I don't know, man. I don't know."
Before Josh tells Poukka to drive off using his catchphrase, "kick rocks," he said everything collected by Predator Hunters would be reported to the Duluth Police Department.
The group celebrated Poukka's arrest in another Facebook post Wednesday.
Duluth Police Department Public Information Officer Ingrid Hornibrook confirmed to the News Tribune that Poukka had appeared in that Predator Hunters video but said it did not lead to his arrest.
"Predator Hunters did not have anything to do with the arrest of or investigation of Michael Robert Poukka," Hornibrook said.
Hornibrook added that none of the information gathered by the Predator Hunters are used in the department's investigation.
"We don't work with Predator Hunters," she said.
On Friday, the Duluth Police Department announced the arrest of eight people in a two-day sting operation that targeted the online solicitation of minors on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31.
Although Poukka's arrest occurred on Jan. 30, it was not part of that sting, Hornibrook said.
In 2006, Poukka was convicted of third degree criminal sexual conduct with an underage victim.