NORTH PORT, Fla. -- Officers from the North Port Police Department, in cooperation with the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, held a week-long sting called “Operation Guardian Angel.”
The operation ended with the arrest of eleven people, all facing charges of lewd/lascivious battery - victims aged 12-15, use of computer to seduce/solicit child for sex acts and travel to seduce/lure child for sexual purpose.
During Operation Guardian Angel, police officers from the North Port Police Department were waiting for suspects who they traveled to the city of North Port for the purpose of having sex with children.
Police Chief Kevin Vespia describes the suspects as "predators that prowl for young children online who wanted and were willing to travel to engage in sexual conduct with a child 14 years of age or younger."
All the suspects responded to internet ads or social media posts and had sexually explicit conversations before heading to North Port.
"We arrested some frightening and disturbing people during this operation," said Vespia.
Police say some people, like Jeffrey Hampson, thought he was meeting a mother who wanted someone to have sex with her 12 year old daughter.
"These guys are public enemy number one in my book. I know everyone has other opinions on how they describe these types of people but I look at them as monsters in the darkness. They come from all walks of life," said Captain Chris Morales.
According to police, Tawana Holmes drove her 23 year old daughter to North Port so she could have sex with a 14 year old boy for $400.
Reinaldo Colon-Ocasio works as a Department of Corrections officer. Police say he was trying to have sex with a 14 year old girl. Jason Bruno is a security guard who was working in the Charlotte County Sheriffs Office Control Room; police say he also thought he was meeting a 14 year old girl.
"At the beginning of these operations back a few years ago, I was a little reluctant to do them, then I come to a realization that it is the real world we live in. The fact of the matter is it is going on, someone has to protect our children," said Vespia.
Along with the eleven arrests, police also seized five vehicles, and they say they will continue their investigative efforts to keep our children safe from internet predators.