An investigation into alleged child predators apparently resulted in the arrests of 23 men, mostly from St. Lucie County.
Operation: Guardian Angel, a joint investigation with the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, took place on eight random days over the course of a month, according to reports. Undercover deputies posed as children on websites and social media platforms where they claim the men pursued them.
The charges against the men, whose ages range from 20 to 79, include lewd and lascivious behavior on someone 12 to 16 years old; use of a computer to seduce, solicit or lure a child; use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony; traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child; and misrepresentation of age to solicit, lure or seduce.
Deputies pretended to be 13- to 15-year-old girls and boys who were home alone during the summer.
All of the men arrested are first-time offenders.
Online sex stings are aimed to trap “so-called predators” into doing something illegal. It is very interesting that all of the men arrested have never been arrested before, which raises a big red flag. Police like to paint the picture that these men “just haven’t been caught yet,” but the reality could be that they were actually victims of police entrapment.
Entrapment is an illegal scenario where police use persuasion or coercion to convince a regular law-abiding citizen to break the law. This is considered illegal when the citizen would not have engaged in the activity otherwise without being persuaded or coerced.