TAMPA — On five days in the past week, law enforcement agents logged onto social media sites and online chat rooms, pretending to be teenagers, or in some cases, their parents. From a rented home, they interacted with people who, authorities say, wanted sex from teens.
The agents, still disguised, agreed with the suspects on a meeting place. The suspects drove to a specific location where they believed they would have sex with an underage male or female.
The sting, dubbed Operation e-Guardian, netted the arrests of 15 men from around the Tampa Bay area.
Two of them were from Pasco County.
David Yoder and Robert Frank's names have both been in the news before.
Yoder's face appeared on national news in 2003 after his daughter, a Tampa native and Chamberlain High School graduate working on a doctorate degree at Louisiana State University, became the last victim of serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. Her body was found by a fisherman in the marshy Whiskey Bay area of the Atchafalaya River Basin. She died of asphyxiation.
"Let's get on with the trial and execution," David Yoder told the St. Petersburg Times from his Dade City home on the night Lee was caught a decade ago. "It's just a tremendous feeling of elation that this is over. Now we can move forward. There won't be any more victims."
Lee was suspected of killing seven women and was ultimately convicted of killing two (neither was Yoder's daughter). Lee was sentenced to life in prison for one of the murders and death for the second.
Robert Frank first made news almost a year ago when he was arrested on 15 charges of violating Florida Wildlife Commission rules and two charges of possessing a venomous reptile without a license.
FWC officials found more than 100 various reptiles in Frank's bedroom and a shed in his yard at 38250 Ruth Ave., in Zephyrhills. Some were dead. Others had inadequate food and water, a report states. He was licensed to own none of them.
Frank, 45, told the Times he just forgot about the licenses, which have to be renewed yearly. He said he didn't have his snakes in locked and labeled containers, which accounted for some for the violations.
"I'm a normal person," he said in November. "I work a normal job. I like to have (the reptiles) because no one else can. I keep it all to myself."
Contact Alex Orlando at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.