Several law enforcement agencies from the federal, state and county level have united with the hopes of catching alleged child sexual predators.
The undercover child sex sting, dubbed “Operation Cyber Vigilance,” was announced Tuesday and will use undercover detectives to track down men believed to be looking to arrange sexual encounters with children.
The operation involves nine counties in the Central Florida area, including Polk, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. The joint venture has the same warning message: “We’re going to get you.”
The Florida Sheriff’s Association has made catching child predators its number one priority, so the agencies are teaming up in order to make the biggest impact, and the most arrests.
As of now, officials have arrested more than 130 people.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri made a special announcement to let everyone know they are going after anyone and everyone believed to be engaging in unlawful contact with minors.
He described one of the most recent arrests: “So she’s out there working- trying to provide for the family. He’s at home with a 13 and 14-year-old sleeping, and what’s he do? He gets online, and starts chatting with one of our undercover detectives,” he explained. “And he leaves his 13 and 14-year-old daughters at home sleeping in bed, and comes up to Pinellas County to have sex with a 12-year-old.”
This most recent undercover sting is designed for agencies to help one another. So, if the Polk County Sheriff’s Office launches an operation, it might call on detectives from Pinellas, Sarasota and Lee Counties for help, and visa versa.
In addition to the nine counties conducting the operation, eight others are contributing to the efforts.
What could be a simple misunderstanding, or even mistakenly entering an Internet site, can lead to a person getting caught up in an Internet sting operation. This cases are often not as clear cut as law enforcement plays them out to be. In many instances, another person may have assumed another’s identity or username without the actual owner’s knowledge.
Police and undercover detectives are trained to spend numerous hours in front of a computer screen scouring Internet chat rooms and social media sites, even going as far as posing as underage users in search of online sexual predators. Defending these cases requires a high level of understanding of the Internet and computers. Fortunately, a Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help those accused of an Internet sex crime. We handle these cases on a regular basis and work with computer experts in order to develop effective defense strategies for our clients. To learn more about how we can assist you with your sex crimes charges, please call us today statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a free initial consultation.
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