The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has arrested 30 people in Operation Intercept II, the second such sting to protect Sarasota County’s children from online predators.
The suspects responded to Internet-based ads or social media posts and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversations, ultimately traveling to a location in Sarasota County with the intent to have sex with a child or children. When the suspects arrived detectives placed them under arrest.
“This was our second operation to see what criminals prowled the Internet for the purpose of sexually exploiting children,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “We saw some frightening things that parents need to be aware of to properly protect their kids.”
In one case, the predator met what he thought was a child on a GPS-based online dating platform that tells people who is in your area and allows you to chat with them and send photos. In another, the suspect posted an ad on a web site known for prostitution and wanted only young girls. He thought he met a 14-year-old girl recently placed with new Foster parents and planned to pay her $60 for her services.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office conducted this manpower-intensive operation in cooperation with the State Attorney’s Office and members of the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Winter Haven Police Department, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Bradenton Police Department, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Assistance was also provided by members of the FBI Innocent Images Task Force: Clewiston Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.