78ºF

Central Florida 'Operation Frostbite' freezes out sexual predators, deputies say

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A multiagency investigation called "Operation Frostbite" in Central Florida led to the arrest of 12 men who Orange County Sheriff's Office officials said were sexual predators soliciting children online.

Orange County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Jane Watrel said the primary mission of the four-day undercover operation was to identify and arrest sexual offenders who contact children and/or their guardians online to solicit sexual contact.

Sgt. Rich Mankewich, who  oversees the Orange County Sheriff's Office sex offenders squad, spoke about the operation at the Sheriff's Office on Monday.

"We literally have to conduct these large scale operations several times a year to show the bad guys we're actually out there physically doing this," Mankewich said.

Mankewich said the suspects were on websites that they know children are on and warned parents to check their children's online activity.

"These guys are out there preying on these children and it's up to us to make sure that doesn't happen to our kids," he said.

All 12 suspects are charged with traveling to meet a minor.