The Polk County Sheriff's Office announced they have arrested 15 men and have issued a warrant for the arrest of one man following an investigation focused on those who travel to have sex with children.
Sheriff Grady Judd shared the details of "Operation Cyber Guardian" at a news conference on Tuesday.
The investigation began on March 25th and ran through Saturday, March 31, 2018. The week-long undercover joint investigation targeted online child predators. Fifteen men were arrested, an arrest warrant was issued for another and two other men were recently arrested, or had charges added, related to child pornography.
The 16 suspects face a total of 62 charges (56 felonies and 6 misdemeanors) which include:
- Attempted Lewd Battery
- Use of Computer to Seduce a Child
- Transmission of Harmful Material to Minor
- Traveling to Meet a Minor
- Use of a Two-Way Communication Device to Commit a Felony
- Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia
- Uninformed HIV infected sexual intercourse
- Misrepresentation of Age Online
- Resisting Arrest
"These predators are out there trying to violate our children. We were reminded of the seriousness of the problem last week when Jonathan Diaz Fundora of Miami traveled to Polk County to kidnap and rape a 10-year-old girl whom he met and groomed online. Children are impressionable and vulnerable. Last week we again posed as children online and charged 16 predators. Despite numerous warnings and publicity about our stings we still catch predators. I am disgusted by their brazenness and callous indifference to the importance of protecting children. I ask parents to please be involved with their children and monitor their online activity. We cannot prevent predators from reaching out to our children, but we can educate our children and be proactive in catching a predator before they start to groom or violate our kids. Fortunately, we've prevented at least 15 of them from doing so." - Grady Judd, Sheriff
The suspects solicited who they thought were children as young as 12-years-old for sex acts. Some suspects also sent pornographic pictures of themselves and some asked for nude photos of the children to be sent to them. Fourteen of the suspects drove to an undercover location in Polk County to engage in sexual activity with the juveniles, according to deputies. Five suspects who wanted to have sex with children were from Polk County. (Lakeland, Davenport, Alturas, Haines City, Lake Wales) The other 11 suspects are from Kissimmee; Orlando; Plant City; the Tampa Bay area; Miramar; Houston, Texas; Mt. Pleasant, Illinois; and Citronelle, Alabama.
Those arrested are:
- Charles Weeks Jr., 21 of Valdosta, Georgia
- Kevin Van Orman, 35, Kissimmee, Florida
- Govind Kumar Gambhir, 30, Houston, Texas
- Jeovan Camacho, 27, Davenport, Florida
- Michael Houghton, 26, Alturas
- Dilon Gilreath, 20, Citronelle, Alabama
- Paulo Rodrigues, 50, Kissimmee, Florida
- Benjamin Thornton, 26, Lakeland, Florida
- Shawn Jagernauth, 22, Haines City, Florida
- William Rodriguez-Cruz, 27, Orlando, Florida
- Aureliano Nunez, 34, Plant City, Florida
- Arturo Acurero, 30, Tampa, Florida
- Tyrel Gordon, 24, Miaramar, Florida
- Daniel Molawa, 51, Mt. Prospect, Illinois
- Christopher Dungan, 53, Zephyrhills, Florida
Still at large:
- Kevin Bagwell, 23, California
If you have information about where Kevin Bagwell is and want to REMAIN ANONYMOUS and be eligible for a CASH REWARD is asked to call HEARTLAND CRIME STOPPERS AT 1-800-226-TIPS or log onto www.P3tips.com to submit your tip via the web. For a secure and password protected mobile app for your smart device, go to the app store and download the free "P3tips" mobile app. No caller ID, no recorded lines, no tracking cookies, no saved IP addresses. Anonymity is guaranteed!
There were also two child pornography arrests; those include:
- Jose Sandoval, 34, Mulberry
- Anthony Schulte, 30, Frostproof
More charges are pending further investigation of the suspects' phones and computers.
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