Polk deputies arrest 30 suspects in child predator sweep
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WWSB) - Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives have arrested 30 child predator suspects, including a corrections officer, a carnival ride operator and a high school sports official, during a two-week operation dubbed “Child Protector III.”
The operation focused on sexual predators who target children and convicted sexual predators and offenders who are required to comply with Florida’s registration laws, including current restrictions in place based on their status.
During the initiative, undercover detectives posed as children on social media platforms, mobile apps and online dating sites to investigate those who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual activity.
In all, detectives arrested 30 suspects, who face a total of 75 felony and 2 misdemeanor charges which include: traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery, use of a computer to seduce a child, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, transmission of material harmful to a child, sexual battery, burglary, and failure to register as a sex offender.
“We will continue to conduct proactive operations like this to ensure our children are safe,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
During the investigation of those who communicated online to have sex with minors, 10 of the suspects communicated and engaged with, in a sexual manner, who they thought were children online.
Two suspects showed up at an undercover location in Polk County at separate times to meet who they thought were children, to sexually batter them. Two of the suspects did not communicate with undercover detectives, but with an actual 14 and 13-year-old whom they traveled to sexually batter.
Detectives obtained warrants for six other suspects; one was arrested in Polk County, one was arrested in Indian River County, one was arrested in Hillsborough County, one was arrested in Colorado, and two are still wanted.
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