POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Beginning June 2, 2022, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Auburndale Police Department, and Winter Haven Police Department detectives conducted a two-week-long undercover operation “Operation Child Protector II”.
During the operation, 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.
The suspects communicated with and solicited who they thought were children online. Four suspects showed up to an undercover location in Polk County at separate times to meet who they thought were children, to sexually batter them.
Detectives obtained warrants for eight other suspects who were arrested and booked into jails in their respective counties.
Additional suspects were charged via warrant after transmitting pornographic images and/or grooming and soliciting the children online; they are still at large in Florida and detectives are actively looking for them.
In all, detectives arrested 12 suspects, who face a total of 49 felony charges. Their combined criminal histories include 22 felonies and 31 misdemeanor charges.
The youngest suspect arrested is 20 years old, and the oldest suspect is 67 years old.
Deputies say the suspects who traveled to the location to have sex with a child, one suspect brought condoms, one has a criminal history, and two told detectives they were married. They were all from the central Florida area.
Of the suspects who had warrants, all of them sent sexually explicit images and/or videos to who they thought were 13, 14, and 15-year-old girls.
Two of the suspects are from out of state and are in custody there, in Michigan and Alabama. Three of these suspects have criminal histories.