25 Men Accused of Arranging Sexual Encounters with Children Online in Escambia County
The Pensacola Cyber Sex Crime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton put in countless hours to protect the legal rights of those charged with sex offenses associated with undercover internet sex trap operations similar to Dateline NBC’s “To Catch A Predator.”
A slew of law enforcement officials in Pensacola, Florida arrested 25 men this month during a weeklong undercover sting that accuses the men of using the World Wide Web to arrange meetings with children allegedly ranging in age from 12 to 14 for sexual encounters. The sting entitled Operation Blue Shepherd started June 20 with 30 officers from local, state and federal agencies in attendance.
The suspects allegedly arrived at an undercover home where they thought they were meeting minors for sex, but instead found a stream of law enforcement officials waiting to arrest them. According to reports, the officers used social networking sites and E-commerce sites to place ads as well as to respond to listed ads that invited male and female children to partake in acts of a sexual nature.
The police reports show that the suspects allegedly described the sexual acts they wanted to participate in with children. Once they arrived at the covert operation home, they were questioned and arrested.
Most of the men were charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, lewd and lascivious behavior and using a computer to solicit sex.
Agencies participating in Operation Blue Shepherd were the State Attorney’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement , Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department, Fort Walton Beach Police Department, Tallahassee Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The operation was funded by the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, an agency focusing its efforts on stopping child sex crimes in Florida.
Undercover sex stings occur daily in the state of Florida, all a part of a scheme to catch alleged criminals before they actually commit a sexual offense against a child. Ever year, thousands of adults are arrested and wrongly charged with internet sex offenses after being the target of a bogus web advertisement, chat room or web site set up by law enforcement officials. Internet sex traps can occur in chat rooms, social networking sites, web sites that allow advertisements and through e-mail. Criminal charges for curbing Internet sex crimes are harsh and carry hefty penalties. Conversations of an obscene sexual nature or soliciting sexual favors from minors are all Internet sex crimes that can result in your immediate arrest.
In most online undercover sex stings, an officer will masquerade as a minor or a guardian of an underage child in the hopes of catching an adult interested in arranging a meeting for a sexual purpose. Many times officers use entrapment techniques to arrest adults engaging in legal activities in the privacy of their homes. You are responsible for all activity on your computer even if your wireless network and identity were compromised as part of a hack job. It is extremely important to constantly monitor your online activity and report any unwarranted behavior immediately.
If you have been arrested for a sex crime involving a minor the Internet in Pensacola, anywhere in Escambia County or throughout the state of Florida, contact the Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers online or reach us toll-free at 866-608-5529.