SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - Four Southwest Florida men are in jail after Sarasota County Sheriff's Office completed a sting operation aimed at catching online predators. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested 13 people in Operation Intercept IV, an initiative to protect Sarasota County children from online predators.
Suspects ranging in age from 18-53 responded to Internet-based ads, online apps or social media sites and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversations. More than half of the suspects live in Sarasota County and the others in surrounding counties including DeSoto, Pinellas and Hillsborough. Some of the men sent explicit photos and several brought condoms with them. Ultimately they all traveled with the intent to have sex with a male or female child.
“While it’s concerning to see this many suspects respond in just three days,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “It’s even more concerning that these individuals live right here in our community. Unlike operations in the past where suspects have travelled from around the state to sexually exploit children, all of the men arrested in this operation live within or just outside Sarasota County. This should be a reminder for parents to remain cognizant of their children’s online activity; know what they are doing and who they are talking to.”