The Volusia County Sheriff's Office has made a string of arrests in an undercover cyber-sting operation to catch people who use the Internet and other technologies to meet children for sexual activity.
Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson said "Operation Broad Band," a 5-day operation, resulted in the arrest of 23 men who agreed to meet up with children 14 years old and younger from chat rooms.
"Child exploitation is a problem that crosses all jurisdictional boundaries and socio-economic backgrounds," said Sheriff Ben Johnson. "The arrests that were made in the past five days should be a wake-up call for all predators. Protecting children is our highest priority, and we’re going to continue to be aggressive and proactive in attacking exploitation whenever and wherever it occurs."
Most of the men were charged with three felonies-- use of a computer to seduce or solicit a child to engage in unlawful sexual conduct, traveling to meet a minor to engage in unlawful sexual conduct and unlawful use of a two-way communications device.
The men would go to the house to meet the girl and when they arrived, deputies would rush out.
"We're not reacting to a physical sexual assault," said Johnson. "We're being proactive finding these folks, going out and arresting them."
The defendants ranged in age from 18-66 and most were from Volusia County, according to deputies. Three are local students -- two from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the other from WyoTech.
Another man, who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl, brought a teddy bear. Meanwhile, the oldest man, a semi-retired doctor from Port Orange who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl, brought a box of condoms, two bottles of wine, various sex devices and Viagra pills, according to the release.
Some of the men were arrested after they thought they were arranging through a child’s mother, father or other relative to have sex with their children in order to teach them how to do it.
Johnson said the department is considering doing more stings.