Sarasota sheriff: 12 busted in online undercover child sex sting

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on April 29, 2014 

Twelve people, including two from Manatee County, have been charged as part of an online undercover sting targeting people trying to have sex with children, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

In a news release, the sheriff's office revealed some of what authorities uncovered during what was dubbed Operation Intercept III.

"Suspects ranging in age from 20-50 responded to Internet-based ads, online apps or social media sites and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversations," the release states.

"One of the suspects is an armed security guard who thought he was going to have sex with a mother and her 12-year-old daughter. Some of the men sent explicit photos and one brought drugs. A 44-year-old man agreed to get a 14-year-old girl pregnant. Ultimately they all traveled with the intent to have sex with a male or female child."

Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight said his department will continue to conduct such undercover operations.

"You would think the frequency of Internet predator operations here in Sarasota County and surrounding jurisdictions would reduce the number of criminals prowling online for the sole purpose of sexually exploiting children," Knight said in the release. "Most adults probably aren't aware of the sites kids are using, so law enforcement will continue to stand between children and these disturbed individuals, but parents need to pay attention to what your kids are doing online. Be a parent, it's OK to check."

Those arrested and charges are:

-- Brian Hawley, 37, Fort Myers; use of a computer to solicit a child to commit sex act, travel to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd & lascivious battery, and two counts of transmission of materials harmful to minors.

-- Raymond Kidder, 50, Clearwater; use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Blake Holliday, 24, Sarasota; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Daniel Ferris, 24, Sarasota; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Edgar Covarrubias-Garcia, 37, Sarasota; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Michael Parent, 43, Sarasota; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted, and Transmission of Materials Harmful to Minors.

-- Harry Walters, 44, Sarasota, Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Daniel Abbey, 30, Ruskin; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted, and Transmission of Materials Harmful to Minors.

-- Dwight Meek, 43, Palmetto; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Jameson Fahey, 20, Englewood; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- James Baker, 33, Tampa; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted.

-- Edmond Jones, 20, Bradenton; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery – Attempted, Possession of less than 20 Grams of Cannabis and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

"Detectives seized two motorcycles during the operation," the release states. "In addition, some of the information obtained during this initiative has resulted in additional investigations which are ongoing at this time."

Agencies assisting in the sheriff's office in the investigation were the Bradenton and Sarasota police departments, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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