TAMPA — A five-day undercover sting targeting child predators wrapped up Monday morning with the announcement of 15 arrests, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which led the effort.
Operation e-Guardian, which began Wednesday and took place in a home in Hillsborough County, resulted in arrests of residents from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties, FDLE officials said at a news conference Monday.
Though the FDLE has assisted other agencies in child predator investigations, this was their first time heading a statewide investigation, said Rick Ramirez, special agent in charge of FDLE's Tampa Bay operations.
During the operation, agents interacted with suspects through social media sites and online chatrooms, pretending to be teenagers, or in some cases, their parents. The suspects then drove to a specific location where they believed they would have sex with an underage male or female, Ramirez said.
Special agent supervisor Chuck McMullen said they expect additional arrests will stem from the investigation. Some suspects they talked to online did not travel to the location.
"The reality is these people go online and find real children all the time," he said. "It's not a victimless crime."
Among those arrested during the sting were Daniel R. Anderson, 37, and Jason Randall Miles, 46, of Tampa. Both face charges including online solicitation of a minor and traveling to meet a minor for sex.
Other Hillsborough residents arrested include: Trinton Andre Jones, 23, of Riverview; Jeffrey Bryan Willey, 53, of Lutz; Ocnel Blanc, 28, of Temple Terrace; Clay Lee Johnson, 25, of Thonotosassa; Mark Anthony Thompson, 23, of Riverview; and Samuel David Ramirez, 23, of Ruskin.