In the past year there have been numerous local undercover operations wherein detectives pose as underage females seeking sex on the internet. Many of the ads are posted on Craigslist or similar sites. They typically begin with a posted ad stating the poster is home alone, bored and looking for something to do. The initial ad sometimes also states the poster is a female anywhere from 12 to 14 years old, although sometimes their purported age is not disclosed until later.
After making initial contact with the poster, a texting dialog usually follows. It can be brief or run for several hours or even days. The poster will send and also ask for a photo. During the dialog, sex is discussed. A time and place to meet is also established. When the responder arrives to meet the poster, they are then detained by numerous officers, interviewed without a lawyer present, arrested and their vehicle is then taken and subject to forfeiture. They are then transported to the jail and face a high bond, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in order to get out while their case is pending.
According to a recent article in The Florida Times-Union, a few weeks ago yet another one of these stings, designated “Operation Cruel Summer” occurred in St. John’s County. The operation involved the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office, sheriffs’ offices from St. Johns, Putnam, Duval and Okaloosa counties as well as police departments from St. Augustine Beach, Orange Park and Gainesville. It resulted in the arrest Friday of 17 men ages 19 to 60 years old. Continue reading