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16 arrested in undercover child sex sting in Polk County

Operation Cyber Guardian targets child predators, sheriff says

BARTOW, Fla. – Sixteen men were arrested in a week-long undercover child sex sting in Polk County, deputies said.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Operation Cyber Guardian, which was conducted from March 25-31, targeted online child predators.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the suspects solicited who they thought were children as young as 12 years old for sex acts. Some suspects sent pornographic pictures of themselves, and some asked for nude photos of the children to be sent to them, Judd said. 

Fourteen of the suspects drove to the undercover location in Polk County to engage in sexual activity with the juveniles, officials said.

Deputies said the 16 men, including a Disney bus driver, face a total of 62 charges (56 felonies and 6 misdemeanors), including: 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 and violation of probation.

"These predators are out there trying to violate our children," Judd said. "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."

[PHOTOS: Suspects arrested in sex sting]

Judd said despite numerous stings, the problem continues.

"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," Judd said.

Five of the suspects were from Polk County, and the others were from Kissimmee; Orlando; Plant City; the Tampa Bay area; Miramar; Houston, Texas; Mt. Pleasant, Illinois; and Citronelle, Alabama.

Sheriff's officials said:

  • 5 suspects either brought condoms or told the undercover detectives they were bringing condoms
  • 2 suspects brought milkshakes and gummy bears 
  • 5 suspects asked the "girls" if they were virgins 1 suspect brought lubricant 
  • 4 suspects mentioned this being a possible "set-up" or otherwise mentioned "cops" or law enforcement, but still drove to the undercover location
  • 5 suspects sent nude photos of themselves and/or pornographic images and videos
  • 5 suspects asked the "girls" to send nude photos of themselves 
  • 1 suspect said he was married and his wife was pregnant 
  • 3 suspects said they wanted to "teach" the girl about sex
  • 2 suspects were on vacation with their family 
  • 2 suspects told detectives they have a child or children
  • 1 suspect admitted to meeting with a minor before
  • 2 suspects offered to pay money to have sex with the child

Those arrested are:

1.  21-year-old Charles Weeks Jr., of Valdosta, Georgia; An undercover PCSO detective began communicating with Weeks via a fictitious profile for a 14-year-old girl. It was clear to Weeks throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. He told her he was looking for sex and asked if she would "mess around" before offering to teach her how to perform oral sex. He also offered to perform oral sex on her and straight unprotected sex. He told her that she would not get pregnant because he would use the "pull out" method. He sent several photos of himself to the "girl" and traveled to the undercover location. On March 25, 2018, Weeks traveled to the undercover location to have sexual intercourse with who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. Weeks tried to flee on foot when he was confronted by detectives, but he was apprehended. Weeks attends Webber University and is staying in Lake Wales for school. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), Use of 2-way communication device to commit a felony (F-3), Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), and Resisting arrest (M-1).
 
2.  35-year-old Kevin Van Orman, of Kissimmee. On March 25, 2018, Van Orman engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 15-year-old girl online. Throughout the conversation, he described himself as "a big teddy bear" and offered to give the girl a massage, to cuddle, and do "whatever else she was comfortable with." It was clear to Van Orman throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 15-year-old girl. He also told her that he would perform oral sex on her and "use protection" during intercourse. After traveling to the undercover location, detectives arrested him. He told detectives that he is a bus driver at Walt Disney World and his wife is pregnant - he also has two children. Van Orman was also chatting with another undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old and offered to perform various sexual acts on her the next night (Monday evening). He was also charged for that offense. He has been charged with: Use of a computer to solicit a child (F-3), Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), and Attempted Lewd battery (F-3). 
 
3. 30-year-old Govind Kumar Gambhir, of Houston, Texas. On March 25, 2018, Gambhir engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 15-year-old girl online. It was clear to Gambhir throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 15-year-old girl. During the conversation, he asked if she would "make out with an older man," "if she was a virgin," or if she would "ride or blow him." He solicited her for pictures and eventually traveled to the undercover location to meet her for sex at which time he was arrested. He told detectives that he was in Orlando for a training conference, he served 6 years active duty in the U.S. Army, and he is a soldier with the Texas National Guard (for the past two years) serving as an Intelligence Specialist (E4).  He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), and Traveling to meet a minor (F-2).
 
4. 27-year-old Jeovan Camacho, of Davenport. On March 26, 2018, Camacho engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old female online. It was clear to Camacho throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Throughout the conversation, Camacho asked the "girl" if he could come to her home to see her. During a recorded phone call, he told her that he would be "gentle" and that he wanted to perform oral sex on her. He also told her that he would bring a condom with him. He traveled to the undercover location and was arrested. He was also talking to another undercover PCSO detective posing as a 12-year-old girl online. He told her that he would come over and "chill." He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3) and Traveling to meet a minor (F-2).
 
5.  26-year-old Michael Houghton, of Alturas. On March 26, 2018, Houghton engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Houghton throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Throughout the conversation, he asked the "girl" if she was interested in having sex with him. He told her that he would stop at Walgreens to purchase condoms so she would not get pregnant. He arrived at the undercover location and attempted to flee when deputies made contact with him. After he was arrested, he told deputies that he was on felony probation for burglary. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), Resisting arrest (M-1), Traveling to meet a child (F-2), and VOP.
 
6.  20-year-old Dilon Gilreath, of Citronelle, Alabama; On March 27, 2018, Gilreath engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 12-year-old girl online. It was clear to Gilreath throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 12-year-old girl. He told the "girl" that he would pay her $50.00 for her to perform oral sex on him. After he described how he wanted her to perform oral sex, he told her he would bring her an additional $20.00 for sex, a strawberry milkshake, and a bag of gummy bears. When he arrived at the undercover location, he had a strawberry milkshake, a bag of gummy bears, and a condom. After his arrest, he told detectives that he attended court that morning for a soliciting a prostitute charge a month ago. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-2) and Traveling to meet a minor (F-2). 
 
7. 50-year-old Paulo Rodrigues, of Kissimmee. In August 2017, Rodrigues engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old boy online. It was clear to Rodrigues throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating with was a 14-year-old boy. Their conversations have been going back-and-forth since August. Rodrigues asked the "boy" if he would be interested in meeting. He told the boy that they could perform oral sex on each other and then have sex. Rodrigues traveled to the undercover location and was arrested. Rodrigues told detectives that he was HIV positive and planned to have sex with the boy without telling him. He brought lubricant and condoms. He has been charged with: Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), and Uninformed HIV infected (M-1). 
 
8.  26-year-old Benjamin Thornton, of Lakeland. On March 25, 2018, Thornton engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Thornton throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. During the conversation he asked the "girl" if they could skinny dip in her pool and have unprotected sex. He told her that he would use the "pull-out" method so she would not get pregnant. On March 28, 2018, Thornton traveled to the undercover location where he was arrested. Detectives found marijuana in his car. He has been charged with: Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), and Possession of marijuana (M-1). 
 
9. 22-year-old Shawn Jagernauth, of Haines City. On March 25, 2018, Jagernauth engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Jagernauth throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Over the course of the next few days, Jagernauth sent text messages back and forth with the "girl" several times. He solicited photographs from her and sent her photographs and videos of himself nude and masturbating. He asked her if she would have protected sex with him. He also asked to perform mutual masturbation. Jagernauth traveled to the undercover location where he was arrested. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), 10 counts Transmitting harmful material to a minor (F-3), Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), and 4 counts of Use of computer to solicit a child (F-3). 
 
10. 27-year-old William Rodriguez-Cruz, of Orlando. On March 26, 2018, Rodriguez engaged with two undercover PCSO detectives posing as a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Rodriguez throughout the conversation that the persons with whom he was communicating were a 14-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl. Over the course of next few days, Rodriguez solicited photographs from both "girls" and asked them about their sexual experiences. He offered to perform oral sex and to have protected sex with them. He traveled to the undercover location to meet the 14-year-old girl where he was arrested. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3) and Traveling to meet  a minor (F-2). 
 
11.  34-year-old Aureliano Nunez, of Plant City. On March 27, 2018, Nunez engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Nunez throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Nunez sent text messages back-and-forth and solicited her to perform oral sex and sexual intercourse. He asked her for nude photographs and he sent her a nude photograph of himself. He traveled to the undercover location where he was arrested. He told detectives that he is here illegally and walked across the border from Mexico. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), Transmitting harmful material to a minor (F-3), Traveling to meet a minor (F-2), Resisting arrest (M-1), and 2 counts Use of computer to solicit a child (F-3). 
 
12.  30-year-old Arturo Acurero, of Tampa. On March 26, 2018, Acurero engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Acurero throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. He offered to give her a massage, asked her if she could sit on his lap, and said he wanted to penetrate her with his hands. Acurero traveled to the undercover location and was arrested.  He has been charged with: Lewd Molestation (F-3), Traveling to Meet a Minor (F-2), Misrepresentation of Age online to Solicit/Lure (F-2), Possession of Marijuana (M-1), and Possession of drug Paraphernalia (M-1).
 
13. 24-year-old Tyrel Gordon, of Miramar. On March 28, 2018, Gordon engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old female online. It was clear to Gordon throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Over the next few days, he asked her to have unprotected sex with him and said he would use the "pull-out" method to prevent her from becoming pregnant. He solicited her for nude photographs.  On March 30, 2018, Gordon traveled to the undercover location where he was arrested. He is a student at University of Central Florida (UCF) and lives in the East Orlando area. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3) and Traveling to meet a minor (F-2).
 
14. 51-year-old Daniel Molawa, of Mt. Prospect, Illinois. On March 30, 2018, Molawa engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. It was clear to Molawa throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Molawa was here on vacation with his ex-wife and two children. During the conversation, Molawa asked if the "girl" was clean and offered to pay her for oral sex. Molawa traveled to the undercover location where he was arrested. He has been charged with: Attempted Lewd battery (F-3), Transmitting harmful material to a minor (F-3), and Traveling to meet a minor (F-2). 
 
Arrest warrants were filed for the following two men: one was arrested in Pasco, and the other is still at-large;
 
15.  53-year-old Christopher Dungan, of Zephyrhills. On March 27, 2018, Dungan engaged with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 15-year-old girl online. It was clear to Dungan throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 15-year-old girl. Over the course of a few days, Dungan and the "girl" began to communicate via text messages. He offered to pay her $100 in cash if they could perform oral sex on each other and have sexual intercourse. He sent a naked picture of himself and solicited her to send naked pictures. Dungan also engaged with another undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl and sent her a naked photo. Both of the PCSO detectives refused to send a photo therefore, Dungan said he would not travel to the undercover location. Detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was subsequently arrested by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. He has been charged with: Transmitting harmful material to a minor (F-3), Use of computer to solicit a child (F-3), and Use of 2-way communication device to commit a felony (F-3). 
 
16.  Still at large: 23-year-old Kevin Bagwell, California; On March 27, 2018, Bagwell engaged in conversation with an undercover PCSO detective posing as a 14-year-old girl online. It was clear to Bagwell throughout the conversation that the person with whom he was communicating was a 14-year-old girl. Over the course of the next few days, Bagwell asked the "girl" several times for nude photographs and sent a nude photograph of himself. He asked her if she would perform oral sex on him and solicited her to engage in unprotected sex. Bagwell did not travel to the undercover location. On March 30, 2018, detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest. His charges are Use of 2-way communication device to commit a felony (F-3) and transmitting harmful material to a minor (F-3). 

Child Pornography arrests:
 
1. 34-year-old Jose Sandoval, of Mulberry; Detectives arrested Sandoval on March 16, 2018, after they received a tip in December of 2017 about child pornography downloaded to a device. Sandoval was charged with 100-counts of enhanced possession of child pornography (F-2), Possession of Methamphetamine (F-3), Possession of Marijuana (M-1), and Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1).  Among the numerous images were pornographic pictures of boys and girls as young as one-year-old, as well as some with children in sadomasochism and bestiality situations.

Prior criminal history for Jose Sandoval include the following arrests: 

  • Sexual Assault on Victim Under 12 (2006)
  • Violation of probation (2012, 2005, 2005, 2004)
  • Driving While License Suspended/Revoked (2004)
  • Possession of Marijuana (2004). 
  • He has been to prison twice (2008-2011, 2015-2016).

 
2. 30-year-old Anthony Schulte, of Frostproof; Schulte was arrested on September 15, 2017, and was featured in our Operation Guardians of Innocence in October of 2017. Shulte was originally charged with 15 counts of possession of child pornography - enhanced (F-2), and has been in the Polk County Jail since that time. After forensic analysis of his electronic devices detectives filed an additional 185 counts of possession of child pornography charges. His total charges as of March 15, 2018, are 200 counts of possession of child pornography (F-2).

 Schulte has a previous criminal history to include:

  • Grand theft
  • Tampering with physical evidence
  • Possession of Methamphetamine, Marijuana, Prescription drugs without a script, and Drug Paraphernalia
  • Armed Trespassing
  • Obscenity
  • Disorderly conduct

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