BARTOW, Fla. – More than 40 people were arrested in Polk County in a two-month undercover investigation that focused on those who prey on children, authorities said.
The investigation, conducted by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Corrections Office of Probation and Parole and State Attorney Brian Haas, resulted in 42 arrests.
The Sheriff's Office said detectives served several search warrants and arrested 18 suspects who engaged in the promotion, possession and distribution of child pornography.
During the investigation, detectives conducted proactive compliance checks on sex offenders, predators, and probationers whose violations stemmed from sex offenses. They ended up arresting 21 suspects for failure to register as a sex offender.
“Our children are this community’s most precious resource. We must do everything we can to protect them," Judd said. "During operations such as this one, we proactively look for suspects who prey upon children, either through the collection and distribution of child pornography, or through their noncompliance with sexual predator and offender registration rules, including their evasive efforts to gain access to children through the Internet and social media."
Of the 42 arrests, 18 suspects were arrested for possession of child porn. One additional possession of child porn suspect is wanted and is at large. Twenty-one suspects were arrested for failure to comply with a sex offender registration and/or violating probation. Three others were arrested during the operation on other charges.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Sheriff Grady Judd will announce more details about the investigation later Wednesday.