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Articles Posted in Port St. Lucie

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.

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The Port St. Lucie Police Department’s initiative, called “Operation Happy Holidays,” resulted in 45 arrests. Port St. Lucie Police, the DEA and FBI  all participated in the operation, including a prostitution sting, highway interdiction, and service of several drug search warrants. 

Police say Operation Happy Holidays focused  on making neighborhoods safer by arresting “potentially dangerous people.”

Port St. Lucie Police Sting nab 45 suspects

Port St. Lucie Police Sting nabs 45 suspects

During the three month operation that began in September, detectives and agents arrested 45 people for charges ranging from drug sale, trafficking heroin and/or methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, cocaine, crack, possession of stolen fire arms and prostitution.  Police collected more than 200 pills, 25 pounds of marijuana, nearly $9,000, five guns, and four vehicles. They also shut down one meth production house in Port St. Lucie and assisted with shutting down two other drug houses in Martin County. 

Police relied heavily on community tips to make these arrests. 

The penalties for drug trafficking in Florida depend on various factors, but the amount of drugs confiscated and the type of type of drug has the most impact on sentences in Florida drug cases. For example, heroin trafficking is the most serious offense and may include a prison sentence of up to 25 years as well as fines of up to $500,000. Trafficking cocaine or marijuana may include a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a $250,000 fine.

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