October 23, 2012
Manatee County Child Predator Sex Sting Netting 43 Arrests Prompts Parents to Monitor Kids’ Computer Use
Whittel & Melton 1-866-608-5529 – Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys
September’s undercover child sex sting dubbed “Operation Green Shepherd” resulted in the arrest of 43 men from eight different southwest Florida counties, including 16 from Manatee and eight from Sarasota.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spent two months planning the weeklong undercover sex trap geared at catching alleged sexual predators online.
Those arrested range in age from 18 to 68. All of the men were charged with using a computer to solicit sex from a minor and traveling to seduce or entice a minor to commit a sexual act.
The sting operation involved around 40 law enforcement officials, with the MSO working together with the Bradenton Police Department, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and county sheriff’s offices from Sarasota, Polk, Lee and Lake.
Police claim all of the suspects believed they were meeting with someone age 14 or younger.
Parents are now being cautioned to closely monitor their children’s activity online. Manatee authorities strongly urge parents to consider installing a computer program called “Computer Cop” as one safeguard against child predators in addition to speaking with their kids about protecting their privacy online.
The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to combat online child sexual solicitations by enforcing tighter regulations over website data-collecting practices.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 has apparently failed to keep up with the advances in data mining technology, which can place youths at risk.
The new rules are currently being worked on and should be out in several weeks.
Undercover child predator stings take place on a regular basis in counties throughout the state of Florida. Most of these sting operations involve detectives who pose as children in online chat rooms waiting to lure unsuspecting individuals into setting up a meeting with a child for sexual purposes. Some of these traps involve made up advertisements or fake web sites used to trick suspects into making arrangements for sexual activity with minors. Once a suspect introduces sexual interests into a conversation, a meeting place will usually be arranged by undercover officials. This can be a home, park or even something as simple as a parking lot. Once the suspect arrives at the location, they will be arrested immediately.
While the details of all undercover cyber stings are slightly different, they all target the same thing – alleged online sexual predators. After a suspect is arrested in an undercover sting, police will typically seize the person’s computer to search for any information that can confirm the person is a threat to children, such as child pornography. However, not all of these searches are conducted legally. A sex crimes defense lawyer can review the facts of your case and investigate whether a search of your personal property was legal. If the search was illegal, then none of the evidence obtained by police can be used against you in court.
As former prosecutors, the Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know exactly how police conduct these undercover stings and just how severe the consequences can be. We recognize the tricks used by law enforcement and can assist you with getting the charges against you reduced or dropped. We make it our number one priority to make sure your rights remain protected throughout the duration of criminal proceedings.
If you have been arrested for a sex crime as a result of an undercover sex trap conducted anywhere in the state of Florida, contact Florida Sex Crimes Attorneys at Whittel & Melton online or call us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5529.