12 busted in online undercover child sex sting by Sarasota Sheriff's Office

acastillo@bradenton.comApril 30, 2014 

SARASOTA -- 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 results of 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. In a video released by the sheriff's office, suspects are shown walking into a location and immediately being pounced on and handcuffed by officers.

"All of them can't believe they got caught, and while some spoke openly about

this compulsion in their activities, others claim this is the first time they acted on anything," said Wendy Rose, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

Edmond Jones, 20, of Bradenton, was charged with using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex, attempted lewd and lascivious battery and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Another suspect named Edgar Covarrubias-Garcia of Sarasota reportedly began communicating with who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl through the social network Badoo. The 38-year-old, who works in Bradenton, was actually talking with an undercover agent. He reportedly told the agent he wanted "hotel sex," "sex," and "relations sexuality."

Sting operations such as Operation Intercept III have been widely reported. The "To Catch a Predator" TV show spotlight the stings yet predators are still getting caught by the well-known tactic, Rose said.

"Whether it's this operation or another, they say, 'I knew it was a sting,' but they still come because their compulsion overrides their conscience. That's the scary part because we have men who think they're coming to meet young children," she said, stressing parents should safeguard children by educating them and monitoring social media activities.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office and Bradenton and Sarasota police departments were among law agencies assisting the investigation.

Arrests include:

• Edmond Jones, 20, Bradenton: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex, attempted lewd and lascivious battery and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

• Raymond Kidder, 50, Clearwater: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Jameson Fahey, 20, Englewood: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Brian Hawley, 37, Fort Myers: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex, attempted lewd and lascivious battery and two counts of transmission of materials harmful to minors.

• Daniel Abbey, 30, Ruskin: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex, attempted lewd and lascivious battery and transmission of materials harmful to minors.

• Blake Holliday, 24, Sarasota: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Daniel Ferris, 24, Sarasota: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Edgar Covarrubias-Garcia, 37, Sarasota: using a computer to solicit a child to commit sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Michael Parent, 43, Sarasota: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery and transmission of materials harmful to minors.

• Harry Walters, 44, Sarasota: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• Dwight Meek, 43, Palmetto: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

• James Baker, 33, Tampa: using a computer to solicit a child for sex, traveling to solicit a child for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery.

Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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