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From May 18 to 25, detectives from both departments posed as underage girls or their parents in Internet chat rooms.
It’s a tried and tested technique for ensnaring sex offenders.
Investigators worked to establish rapport with subjects and developed cases where they arranged to meet with for the purpose of sexual activity.
Investigators said the suspects explicitly sought out minors for sex.
Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd spelled out details of the two-week sting, which started on May 18, at a Tavares news conference surrounded by large boards filled with suspects' mug shots.
Seventy-nine people were busted in the prostitution operation and 22 in the child-sex sting, officials said."Central Florida is now a safer place today because of the efforts of our deputies," Borders said.
Nineteen of the arrests from the week-long joint investigation were for men traveling to meet a minor for sex, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“This sex offender is now behind bars and away from children.”According to an extensive investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Mason traveled from the Tampa area to Orlando to have sex with a 12-year-old girl after he communicated with someone he believed to be the child's father.One identified himself as a nurse at a local hospital.