Two dozen adults police say were looking to meet and have sex with underage teens were arrested this week as the Lee County Sheriff's Office completed a week-long sting Monday called Operation Safe Summer.
All were charged with between two and six felonies for obscene communication on a computer to seduce or solicit a child and/or travel to meet afterward and using a two-way device to facilitate a felony, officials said.
"These are things that Sheriff Mike Scott has adamantly stated he will not tolerate," said spokesperson Lt. Jeff Dektas.
Nearly 40 deputies, detectives and agents locally and statewide worked to identify and apprehend those accused, who range in age from 20 to 74. The suspects used social networking to make plans to meet and commit sexual acts with a "14-year-old."
The Sheriff's Office placed ads in numerous social media sites and chat rooms, which were not disclosed.
Conversations then took place online, some of which were "very graphic," said Sheriff's Office Lt. James Amrich.
The suspects were given the address to an unspecified Lee County home, where they travelled, officials said, adding once they reached the door and made contact with the undercover officer, the arrests took place.
Some of those arrested also were in possession of narcotics.
Three suspects live in Cape Coral, one lives in North Fort Myers, nine were from Fort Myers and seven were from Lehigh Acres. There were two others from Punta Gorda, with the other two from outside the area.
Amrich said the fact that so many came from such a small area was just a random circumstance.
What isn't a coincidence is that they came from online advertisement, and that parents need to be vigilant about what their children are doing on the internet, Amrich said.
"These are typically your common networking sites that children and adults go onto for social media," he said. "As a parent you need to monitor what your children are doing on their media devices. You'd be surprised some of the sites they're are going on."
The sting, which took place from May 27 until June 2 and took three months of preparation, was executed with the help of the Special Victim's Unit, the Correction's Bureau, the FBI Innocent Images Task Force, the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, the State's Attorney's Office, and police and sheriff's offices throughout Southwest Florida.
"That's what makes us so great. We're not only on the street, but we're on the internet, the phone lines, everywhere we need to be..," Detkas said.
Those arrested include:
Gustavo Duran Quintero, 51, 1303 SE 2nd Terrace, Cape Coral
William Merrick, 31, 231 Cultural park Blvd., Apt. A, Cape Coral
George Fajardo, 27, 2368 NW 38th Place, Cape Coral
Michael Horn, 33, 225 Sacremento St., North Fort Myers.
Armando Solis, 22, of 1148 Pisa East Street, Lehigh Acres
Paul Cuzzocrea, 27, of 734 Fargo Drive, Fort Myers
Eric Arambula, 36, of 5114 29th Street SW, Lehigh Acres
Joshua Yslas, 24, of 3908 West 24th Street, Lehigh Acres
Robert Brindley, 25, of 5371 Neal Road, Fort Myers
Joshua Rivera, 28, of 1523 Lindale Circle, Lehigh Acres
Daniel Ibanez, 26, of 111 Polk Street, Lake Placid
George Moorman, 30, of 228 Ichabod Drive, Lehigh Acres
Burel Brutus, 40, 4305 Douglas Lane, Lehigh Acres
Jose Pacheco, 30, of 8192 Pelican Road, Fort Myers
Russell Snider Sr., 74, of 25912 Aysen Drive, Punta Gorda
Douglas Haggerty, 43, of 1750 North Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers
Chen Feraro, 33, of 1548 Cordova Avenue, Fort Myers
Josue Cardosa, 22, of 7615 Carrier Road, Fort Myers
Michael Rhum, 29, of 5406 Wilson Drive, Punta Gorda
Caleb Barnhouse, 20, of 15400 Huntington Court, Fort Myers
Onel Coombs, 21, of 846 Grant Boulevard, Lehigh Acres
Reginald Charles, 37, of 3541 Evans Avenue Apt D-102, Fort Myers
Joshua Hill, 26, of 3321 Ottawo Circle Apt.3, Fort Myers
Alexis Rizo Jr., 20, of 5855 West 3rd Lane, Hialeah