Seminole County — On March 24, 2014 the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office announced the results of Operation SafeNet, a multi-agency, undercover operation targeting individuals who use the internet to sexually exploit children. Law enforcement from 16 Central Florida agencies joined forces to arrest 26 individuals who traveled to and within Seminole County intending to engage in sexual activity with what they believed to be a child as young as 11-years-old.
During the operation, undercover law enforcement officers chatted online, e-mailed, and spoke on the phone with subjects who believed they were communicating with a minor, or with an adult who had a minor available for sexual activity. Individuals arrested ranged from age 19 to 51 and included a postal worker, security guard, pizza delivery men, landscapers, and a variety of other professionals. The majority of the offenders travelled from neighboring cities and counties. The weeklong operation began on March 19th and concluded early Monday Morning.
Participating agencies included: the Apopka, Casselberry, Longwood, Orlando, Oviedo, and Sanford Police Departments, the Citrus, Orange, Lake, Manatee, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, and Volusia County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Every man arrested gave an excuse as to why they had actually traveled to the bait house.
One of the arrested, said that he just drove to the bait house to tell the adult that “supposedly” had a minor available for sex, that it was wrong. The Suspect said, “They shouldn’t be doing this, and I was going to leave. I was going to come, shake the dad’s hand and tell him, No, thanks. You shouldn’t be doing this to your daughter, and I was going to leave.”
A pizza delivery man arrived right after his work shift, while he was still in uniform, another had his mom drop him off at the bait house.
Investigators said one of the suspects had a gun and that it is the first time they have experienced someone showing up to a sex sting while armed.
Most of the men told investigators that they knew there was a chance they had been speaking with police, but they didn’t care. Investigators said that the urge that the men had to meet a minor for sex was just too great for the men to stay away despite the fact some of them knew they could have been speaking with an undercover officer posing as a minor.
All of the individuals arrested were booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility.