TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Twelve men from across north Florida and south Georgia are under arrest today following a child sex sting called ‘Operation Cupid’s Arrow.’ Five of those men are from right here in Tallahassee.
The investigation wrapped up Thursday with a press conference at FDLE headquarters. Investigators say they used chat rooms, dating sites, social media, and even online classified ads. Officials say they want this to serve as a warning to predators that they will find and arrest you.
The investigation involved local, state and federal law enforcement officers.
“This type of crime cuts to the very core of why it’s so important that we keep our children off the internet and at least aware of what they’re doing on the internet and away from these sexual predators,” said Leon County Sheriff, Walt McNeil.
The suspects range in age from 21 to 70-years old, coming from a variety of backgrounds including a college student to a well-respected attorney. Investigators say this proves child predators come in many different forms.
“This can be anybody, it’s just those individuals that have the propensity to harm children by sexual encounters and sexual acts,” said FDLE Special Agent in Charge, Mark Perez.
Investigators posing as underage children say the suspects became more interested in meeting with them after learning they were talking to minors.
“They’re not going to stop. Unfortunately, the internet and these chat rooms only make it easier for them to prey on our children,” Perez said.
Internet usage is just one of the factors that officials say is putting our children at risk.
“They are vulnerable and they’re susceptible to these communications and they get caught in them thinking that it’s somebody else,” Perez said.
Investigators say they’re now doing everything they can to make sure these predators are taken off of the streets and put behind bars.
Some of the men even asked for or sent lewd photos to the children, all with the intent to act upon the sexual requests.
Only one of those men was a documented child predator prior to being arrested.