POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Thirteen men, including a former military police officer and a cook at a Disney resort, were arrested in an undercover online child predator operation in Florida.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said undercover detectives posed as girls and boys on social media platforms and dating websites from Oct. 2-7.
During the six-day “Operation Cyber Guardian Fall Haul,” 13 men communicated with undercover detectives thinking they were children between the ages 13 and 14 and showed up to a Polk County location to solicit sexual acts from the “children.”
The sheriff’s office said many of the suspects took condoms and lubricant but were greeted by detectives and arrested.
Those arrested included men in their 20s, 30s and 50s, and were from Kissimmee, Montverde, Lake Mary, Davenport, Winter Haven, Orlando and Holiday.
Among them were:
- A man who said he knew he was HIV-positive and solicited a boy who he thought was 14 to engage in unprotected sex.
- A former military police officer who had been previously arrested, convicted and is on federal probation for lewd/lascivious molestation of a child.
- A man who was arrested in Seminole County in November for obscene communication with a minor.
- A man who brought a new I-Phone 8+ as a gift along with sex toys, condoms, lubricant, and male enhancement pills.
- A cook at a Disney resort.
- A food runner at a restaurant in Disney Springs.
“These predators are out there, trying to sexually seduce and violate children. They lurk in chat rooms and online, ready to groom children for sex,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
“Fortunately, because of the great work of our detectives, at least 13 of them won’t be doing that any time soon.
“The things that these predators say to children they believe are 13 and 14 are vile and disgusting. Even seasoned, trained detectives are repulsed. The bottom line is that these predators need to be locked up and kept away from children.”
The 13 men arrested face a total of 58 charges (57 felonies, one misdemeanor) that include attempted lewd lascivious molestation, using a communication device to commit a felony, attempted uninformed HIV infected sexual intercourse, traveling to meet a minor for the purposes of sex, attempted lewd battery, and transmitting material harmful to a minor.AlertMe