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Published: Tuesday, October 09, 2018 @ 2:01 PM
BARTOW, Fla. — Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 13 Florida men in an undercover operation targeting suspected child predators, officials said.
Undercover detectives conducted the six-day sting, called Operation Cyber Guardian Fall Haul, where they posed as underage children on social media platforms and online dating sites, according to officials.
The men thought they were going to meet children between the ages of 13 and 14, but instead, they were arrested, deputies said.
“These predators are out there, trying to sexually seduce and violate children. They lurk in chat rooms and online, ready to groom children for sex,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “Fortunately, because of the great work of our detectives, at least 13 of them won’t be doing that any time soon. The things that these predators say to children they believe are 13 and 14 are vile and disgusting. Even seasoned, trained detectives are repulsed. The bottom line is that these predators need to be locked up and kept away from children.”
The Tampa Bay Times reported that two Disney employees who worked in food services were also arrested. They are 24-year-old Timo Townsend, who worked at a restaurant, and 22-year-old Robert Grassano-Mazeika, who worked at a resort, according to police.
The other suspects included, 24-year-old Justin Brandon Kinard, who was already awaiting trial in Seminole County on charges of obscene communication with a minor, and Thien Nguyen, 26, a former military police officer who was previously convicted for molesting a child, police said.
Altogether, the suspects face 57 felonies, the sheriff’s office said.