Jack Thomas, a 62-year-old Florida man traveled approximately 109 miles from his Lake County home Friday with the belief that a Manatee County mother he met through an Internet chat room was going to allow him to have sex with her 13-year-old daughter.
Members of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a total of 25 residents who traveled to the same Manatee residence over the course of one week with the goal of soliciting sex with a minor, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, told The Daily Caller, “at times multiple suspects would all arrive within an hour’s time,” sometimes no suspects would appear for a day, and yet on another day the suspect’s arrivals, and subsequent arrests, would consume the entire day.
Operation Green Shepherd, the third covert sting of its type since 2012 for the department, was designed to nab suspects that openly attempted to solicit a child to commit a sexual act through the use of a computer, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
All 25 suspects were charged with travel to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit a sexual act; use of a computer to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit a sexual act; and attempted lewd and lascivious battery, according to a sheriff’s office release.
Bristow said that since these operations began in early 2012, when these types of missions became an important state initiative, the median age of suspects has been 37.
“Many of the subject when they would come, they are coming to meet a juvenile, they are obviously not expecting law enforcement. Many are coming with alcohol and hard drugs, you know … this sort of tells you what their intentions were,” Bristow told the Daily Caller.
Since last week’s sting occurred the state has issued a public service announcement warning parent’s about the dangers of sexual predators.
“Parents can play a big roll in … stopping this kind of stuff from happening,” said Bristow.