A Florida sheriff’s office announced the arrest of 26 men today, accused of using the Internet to line up dates for sex with children. The men – whose ages ranged from 19 to 51 – all showed up at a house expecting to be meeting children. One of the most shocking parts of the story? The 26 arrests took place in the last five days. That it is so easy to round up that many predators in such a small amount of time makes my head spin.
The men believed they would be meeting children between the ages of 11 and 14. The Orlando Sentinel reported that one 26-year-old man told officers he set up the meeting with a child as a way to “celebrate his wedding anniversary.”
The suspects include two pizza deliverymen, a postal worker, a security guard and a 20-year-old landscaper whose mother dropped him off at the house where the rendezvous was to take place. The men used chat rooms, social media and other Internet sites to communicate with undercover deputies and police officers from other agencies posing as children or the parents of children, willing to let their children have sex with a stranger.
The chief deputy said the men used social media, chat rooms and other sites to communicate with undercover officers posing as children or the parents of children willing to let their children have sex with a stranger. Some of the suspects spent hours chatting online and one even made a call to a female officer who was posing as a young girl.
That this many predators could be rounded up in five days scares the crap out of me. The Internet is vast and creeps abound. I know I just sound like a paranoid parent now, but every time I read another one of these stories I become more convinced that my children will not have social media profiles in their futures.
Each suspect was arrested and accused of traveling to have sex with a minor. I’ll just mention one more time that these men were 19 to 51 years old and the girls they thought they were meeting were 11 to 14.