Online Sexual Predators Baiting Children Caught in Police Sting

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald April 10, 06:20 pm

It is now easier for sexual predators to bait children thanks to the internet and social media apps. In Polk County, Florida, 17 arrests were made in a recent sting called "Operation April's Fools" conducted from March 29 to April 4.

"These freaks and these deviants are looking for our children online every day," Sheriff Grady Judd said on Tuesday, as quoted by FOX 13. "There are now apps that conceal apps. It's getting more difficult every day to find and track these very dangerous predators. But there's one thing for sure, they will not stop trying to trap your children."

Some of those arrested are a Florida Hospital technician, football coach, Walt Disney World Security Guard, Discovery Cove theme park janitor, and an Alaska Airlines customer service manager who carried LSD and cocaine, WKBN listed. The youngest of those arrested was 19 years old, with the oldest 60 years old. Five of them said they are married.

Suspects Solicited Sex Acts

To apprehend sexual predators, undercover detectives posed as children or as custodians of children and posted fictitious ads or profiles on social media platforms, apps, and websites. Some of the detectives also responded to profiles and online ads.

According to WKBN's report, some of the suspects also sent pornographic photos of themselves, while others requested for nude pictures of the juveniles. The suspects solicited sex acts from children as young as 13 years old.

"Several of the men drove to the house to follow through with the promises made online to engage in sexual activity with the juveniles," WKBN further added. "Most of the suspects traveled to an undercover location or to another meeting place."

Moreover, the publication claimed that police authorities identified nine suspects in possession of condoms, others brought candy and some even brought illegal narcotics when they went to the location. Judd noted that some other suspects were also in possession of firearms.

Parents Urged to be More Vigilant

The Sheriff's Office of Polk County didn't specify the apps that sexual predators use. Judd, however, said that children may be interacting with predators without the knowledge of their parents or guardians, the news outlet noted. Judd added that parents should talk with their children and regularly check their phones to see who they engage with.

District Attorney Pamela Casey of Blount County, Alabama stressed that there are numerous apps that parents should be wary about. On her Facebook page, Casey regularly posts "App Alerts" that indicate the function and format of apps that are unsafe for children.

Dark Justice, which police labeled as a vigilante group, has claimed that they have put 20 child sex offenders behind bars, Express reported. The group said that they have no personal experience of child abuse, but they are adept in using technology that the deviants use.

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