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Articles Posted in Undercover Police Sting

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A week long undercover sex sting operation has resulted in the arrest of 79 people, including a high school girls’ basketball coach and a pastor. 

The sting was conducted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and called “Operation Takedown,” and launched to coincide with the past weekend’s WrestleMania 37 that was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

The HCSO said that they believed the large even would yield a high number of people looking to take advantage of those in the Tampa community through human trafficking. 

Detectives created online profiles as part of the undercover operation to chat with men looking to engage in sex acts for money. They also had female detectives pose as prostitutes, according to reports. 

A 39-year-old pastor was arrested in the undercover operation. The Sheriff’s Office said that the man allegedly offered an undercover detective $25 for a sexual act after he took his children to their daycare. He is accused of reaching the deal with the undercover detective posing as a prostitute while his two kids were in the car with him. 

Another man, a 39-year-old assistant girls’ basketball coach, was arrested after allegedly answering an ad posted by the undercover officers. 

Both of the men are facing misdemeanor charges of soliciting another to commit prostitution. The pastor is facing two additional misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor due to the fact that his children were in the car with him when the alleged misconduct took place. 

The operation also resulted in two men being arrested on human trafficking charges. They were both arrested after allegedly responding to an escort ad to have sex with a 17-year-old girl. 

Another man, a 41-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested after he allegedly texted what he thought was a 14-year-old girl. He is facing charges of transmitting harmful material to a minor and traveling to meet a minor after using a computer to solicit illegal acts, as well as other charges, according to the HCSO. 

Many people make the mistake of cruising the Internet for escorts and wind up involved in an undercover prostitution sting. The presence of web-based sex crimes has only increased police efforts to catch and prosecute those believed to be sexual predators. Police often use aggressive tactics to entrap innocent individuals with no criminal history into various situations that lead to their arrest. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know how police operate in these undercover stings, and we can put our knowledge to work for your benefit. If you or someone you love has been accused of responding to an ad posted by an undercover detective, then let us help you fight these charges. We are familiar with how police and undercover agents use social media, the Internet, as well as text messages and online chats to illegally trap those that have never had any run-ins with the law before. 

If you are arrested in an undercover Internet sting operation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office or any other agency, you can possibly face immediate consequences that can negatively impact your life. Your name and picture could appear online and show that you were arrested for solicitation or any other related charge. A public disclosure like this can tarnish your reputation in the community with friends and family as well as damage your job status. 

When police officers use undercover agents to lure unsuspecting individuals into soliciting sex acts, this opens the door to the very real possibility of entrapment or other illegal tactics made by law enforcement. Our Florida Internet Sting Operation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can review all of the evidence against you and identify any unlawful tactics used by police right away. Depending on the facts of your case, we may be able to use this as leverage to persuade the prosecution for a dismissal of the charges or a reduction of the charges against you. Every case is different, and while we can make no guarantees on the outcome of your case, we can promise to passionately fight for your reputation and liberty. We understand how overreaching police officers work, and we have developed our own team of experienced investigators and computer forensic experts who can help us build the best defense strategy tailored to your case.  Continue reading

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An undercover drug sting that began in March led to the arrest of a St. Augustine man accused of running a drug house on Grove Avenue, according to reports.

The 29-year-old was arrested Tuesday on a warrant charging him with selling heroin from his home, which is within 1,000 feet from Ketterlinus Elementary School.

The man was booked late Tuesday morning into the St. Johns County jail on multiple drug charges. His bond was set at $300,000.

The case against the man began in March when detectives said they used an undercover informant to purchase heroin multiple times from the man.

Investigators claim they have audio recording of the alleged drug deals that took place inside his home, which they believe the man intentionally used and maintained to sell heroin.

The case remains under investigation, which means there could be more charges filed and possibly more arrests.

Heroin laws in Florida are extremely serious. Possession of any amount of heroin in Florida is classified as a felony, it does not matter how large or small the amount is. If you have been arrested for selling heroin, you need to call our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton as we are familiar with federal and state drug laws. You will need a lawyer who can help you understand Florida’s heroin laws and represent your best interests in court.

Possessing 10 grams or less of heroin can land you in prison for up to five years. Possessing 10 grams or more can land you in prison for up to 30 years. Being accused of possessing or selling heroin near a school carries enhanced penalties. You do not want to mess around with these charges.

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About 20 unlicensed contractors accused of scamming Pinellas County residents were taken into custody Tuesday.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies began rounding up the contractors at 5 a.m. during “Operation Nailed.”

The men, roofers, painters and construction workers are accused of scamming residents out of thousands of dollars in the past few months.

The roundup was a collaborative operation between the Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Financial Services, Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, Pinellas County Consumer Protection and the State Attorney’s Office, targeting unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County.

Until two months ago, unlicensed contractors normally received simple fines. But in an effort to crack down on members of the public being taken advantage of, arrest warrants are now being issued.

In Florida, doing contractor work without a license is a misdemeanor for the first offense. After that, it is a felony. According to the PCSO, the pilot program targeting unlicensed contractors still has four months to go. So far, detectives are working as many as 220 cases.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that performing work for others, without a license, is “no big deal.” However, if you are convicted of contracting without a license, there will be additional consequences on top of potential jail time and fines. You will also have a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult to apply for jobs, to apply for other professional licenses, to obtain housing, or to pass a background check.

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A Jupiter man’s license to practice medicine was suspended in 2015 after he was allegedly found dispensing powerful pain medications to drug addicts, patients with mental-health issues and, in one case, a “morbidly obese” woman complaining she couldn’t bend over.

According to law-enforcement officials, the man offered to diagnose and treat an undercover Florida Department of Health investigator during an appointment on Aug. 21, 2015.

The 62-year-old was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Friday and is facing a charge of practicing medicine without a license. He was released after posting a $3,000 bond.

At the time of the appointment, the man’s license had been suspended for six months after investigators allegedly found he had prescribed drugs such as oxycodone, Xanax and Dilaudid sometimes without performing adequate examinations and, in a few cases, failing to refer patients to addiction specialists, according to Florida Department of Health documents.

The investigation into the man dates back to 2010.

If you are facing charges of practicing medicine without a license, you must obtain legal representation as soon as possible to mitigate the serious potential consequences. It is essential to consult with a criminal defense lawyer immediately as these charges can negatively impact your life severely if not handled properly. Our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can advise you of your rights and apply the best possible defense strategy for your specific charges.

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Three women were arrested Thursday night, two on drug charges and one on a prostitution charge, after an undercover operation at a well-known strip club on Jacksonville’s Southside.

A 22-year-old is facing a charge of soliciting for prostitution, and two other women are facing drug-related charges. One is charged with delivering or distributing cocaine and methamphetamine, and selling benzodiazepine. The other is charged with possession of synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia.

According to arrest reports, one of the women allegedly sold drugs to undercover agents four times.

The two women arrested on drug charges are each being held on $25,000 bond.

Drug arrests are very serious. The type of penalties that you could be facing depend upon the circumstances involved in your case. While your case may seem similar to another person arrested for a drug crime, every case is unique and the courts determine punishment on a case by case basis. You could be looking at:

  • Probation
  • Drug counseling
  • Jail or prison time
  • Community Service
  • Fines
  • Forfeiture of assets

Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton provide representation to those who have had been charged with a drug related offense. We can help you understand what to do after you have been arrested and what needs to be done to develop a strong defense.

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Jacksonville police have made a massage parlor prostitution arrest.

A 57-year-old woman was arrested Thursday after she allegedly offered to perform a sex act for $70 on an undercover police officer who was getting a massage, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Police said a 55-year-old woman was arrested earlier this month during a prostitution sting at a different Jacksonville massage spa.

Prostitution is defined as any sexual activity in return for payment. If you have been accused of prostitution, understand that you are innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty. You have the right to a criminal defense attorney and due process under the law. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you establish a viable defense when facing prostitution charges.

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At least 13 people were arrested in a series of drug raids Thursday in Orlando and Tampa, according to reports.

Federal agents claim members of the group have been conspiring to sell heroin and cocaine since at least December 2015.

They are charged with conspiracy and intent to distribute a controlled substance.

At least $80,000 and a 2015 Acura ILX were seized, according to reports.

Have you recently been arrested in a drug raid? If so, you will definitely need the services of a highly skilled Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can help you. When you are arrested on drug charges, you need a defense attorney who can investigate every aspect of your case with the hopes of possibly getting your charges reduced or even completely dismissed. We can assist with your case and have extensive experience in handling drug cases on both the state and federal levels.

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The Lake County Sheriff’s Office arrested 10 men last week following a recent undercover cyber operation dubbed “Treasure Florida’s Kids.”

Detectives said during the week-long operation, they posed online as a teenager or a child’s caregiver to target those looking online for sex with children.

Eight of the men reportedly traveled to the Golden Triangle area. Authorities said it includes Eustis, Tavares and Mt. Dora.

Two other men were arrested at their homes after detectives allege they sent explicit pictures.

Authorities claim some of the men brought items with them, like blankets, pillows, beer and money.

Ten other law enforcement agencies participated in the sex sting, including Osceola, Seminole, Polk and the Citrus Sheriff’s Offices.

Internet sex stings are nothing new. In fact, these are a common occurrence with police departments across the state of Florida as well as throughout the United States. Police stage these stings and use all kinds of tactics to get normally law abiding citizens to agree to their requests so they can arrest them. In fact, police will bend the rules in order to make an arrest in these undercover schemes. Many of the men arrested for allegedly seeking to have sex with a child were not trying to meet children online. Rather, they were looking for other adults when detectives started to persuade them to break the law.

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A Walt Disney World worker was arrested Monday afternoon on charges he tried to meet a supposed minor for sex, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The 22-year-old allegedly communicated online with what he thought was an aunt on Craigslist for three days last week about having sexual relations with her 13-year-old niece, according to reports.

Reports indicate that the “aunt” was an undercover detective working with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children operation.

In one of the communications, the Ocoee man allegedly said that he can “teach” the girl about sexual relations.

When the man arrived at an agreed location to meet the “aunt” and “girl” Monday afternoon, he was arrested. He told police that he only came to the meeting place to report the “aunt,” according to reports.

The man “has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the charges,” according to a Disney spokesperson.

Traveling to meet a minor for sex is a very serious charge that is classified as a second-degree felony punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years and fines of up to $10,000. If convicted, you could be looking at a minimum of 21 months behind bars, not to mention mandatory registration as a sex offender.

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Fifteen people have been arrested as part of a drug-trafficking investigation in Manatee County.

The multi-agency investigation started due to the high number of recent heroin overdoses and deaths in the area.

During the 18-month undercover investigation, authorities allegedly confiscated $262,500 worth of heroin, $111,000 worth of cocaine, 200 grams of fentanyl, 100 hydromorphone pills, 28 firearms and more than $327,000 in cash and assets.

Detectives believe the investigation resulted in a significant decrease in the number of heroin overdoses and deaths in Manatee County.

In 2015, the Bradenton Police Department and the Manatee Sheriff’s Office investigated 77 heroin-related deaths. So far, there have not been any this year.

When an individual has been accused of or charged with a criminal offense involving heroin, it is crucial that they consult with a Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton right away. You have legal rights that must be protected. It is important to know that under the law, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The penalties in Florida for drug crimes are very serious, which is why we fight hard to protect those accused of drug crimes from lengthy prison terms and other penalties that can wreck their careers, reputation, and future.

Whether you have already been charged with a heroin or other drug crime, or are under investigation, it is imperative that you discuss your situation with us immediately. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can explore any and all options you have, and develop a strong defense strategy.

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