Inverness, Florida – The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has deemed last week’s sex crime sting to be a success, as it resulted the arrest of some 22 individuals for alleged Internet Sex Crimes. The operation, which allegedly started with an online Craigslist advertisement featuring “a young mother who was seeking subjects to teach her teenage daughter how to please a man and share in intimate family fun”.
The Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have already begun defending several of these men in Circuit Court in Citrus County.
These types of sting operations have become popular with local law enforcement since the inception of the Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series which shot some of its episodes in Fort Myers, Florida. In that operation, 24 men were arrested in a three day period.
The types of crimes usually charged in these cases involve using the internet to solicit or secure sex with a minor, aka Internet Solicitation, or traveling to meet a minor for sex. Some of the cases may also involve the possession of or distribution of child pornography– as many times, law enforcement will engage in online conversations, or chat in online chatrooms, posing as a minor. During these chats, law enforcement may exchange pornographic material to lure an individual to the physical location of the sting operation.
In these recent cases, the State will undoubtedly be seeking convictions under Florida’s Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. As a part of the sting operation, Citrus County authorities also seized one handgun, 26 cell phones, 19 personal computers, four cameras and countless motor vehicles. It is unclear at this point how many of these seizures will stick in court.