14-10 (UPDATE) 35 Suspects Arrested In Sexual Predator Operation
1/28/2014 9:17:45 AM
Contact: Rob Shaw
Jan. 27, 2014
Clearwater Police, PCSO Team Up To Arrest 35 Sexual Predators
WHAT: Operation Home Alone
WHO: Clearwater Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, multiple other law enforcement agencies.
WHEN: Began at 2 p.m. Jan. 23, concluded at 2 a.m. today.
WHERE: The operation was conducted out of the second-floor Emergency Operations Center of the Clearwater Police Department, 645 Pierce St. Various sites were used in both Clearwater and Pinellas County for the arrests.
WHY: To crack down on those who use a computer or other electronic devices to seek sex with children.
They thought they were showing up to have sex with children - some as young as
11 or 13 years old. Instead, they ended up in handcuffs and being carted off to jail.
Thirty-five suspects were arrested over a four-day period by detectives from the Clearwater Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Dubbed "Operation Home Alone," the effort targeted those who use a computer or other electronic devices to try to arrange to have sex with children.
"If these predators are going after our children, we're going to make sure we go after these predators," said Clearwater Police Chief Anthony Holloway.
The suspects, who range in age from 19 to 65, thought they were chatting with teen boys or girls. Instead, they were chatting with detectives. They were arrested after coming to different locations to meet with their "victims."
Most of the suspects were from the Tampa Bay area. Twenty-three were from Pinellas County, seven were from Hillsborough County and two each were from Pasco and Manatee counties. One man traveled all the way from Miami to meet what he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Another came from Tarpon Springs to have sex with a mother and her two daughters - ages 11 and 14.
The suspects were arrested on a variety of charges, the most common ones being traveling to meet a minor and seduction of a child using the Internet or an electronic device. Other charges included attempted lewd and lascivious battery, resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.
All were taken to the Pinellas County Jail.
Other participating agencies included the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, United States Air Force, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Polk County Sheriff's Office, St. Petersburg Police Department and Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney's Office.
All of the participating law enforcement agencies are part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
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