Sex Sting Puts Seven Men Behind Bars
Published July 23rd, 2012
By: Yaremi Farinas
Another fishing expedition by law enforcement hooked more men accused of looking for the wrong kind of fun. An undercover internet sex sting called Operation TailSpin promised the men they would meet an underage child, but instead delivered them to jail. The youngest man is 19 years old and the oldets is 30. The men vary in age, appearance and occupation.
Late Monday, after initial reports of the sting, investigators arrested 38 year old Raymond Elijah Wortham. The seventh man arrested is a registered sex offender whose last known residence was Archer.
"I think it's always a worry now a days. Especially anything on the internet," said Jodie Strope.
Strope of High Springs is a mother of two. Her 12 and 14-year-old old daughters spend some time online just like many other kids.
"Our children are never an their laptops or anything in their rooms by themselves. It's always in the living room where there is an adult around them," said Strope.
She said it's a way to make sure there aren't any child predators trying to contact her daughters online. In the past five days six men were arrested for planning to meet up with underage girls. The men are Michael Shaine Smith, Dylan Kestel, Demarquarius Truitt, David Allen Hurtt, Pierce Harrell and Dennis LaRoche.
Detectives used the internet to catch thee men. The undercover chatters went on craigslist and posted an ad under casual encounters. About 10 minutes after the posting, they were already having conversations with these men.
"Shortly there after some of theses individuals are already talking about sex acts and the desire to come an meet with our chatters with the purposes of having sex," said Captain Vermillion.
One of the men wrote "Hello there are you ready for some good fun :)."
"Our folks are trained to pose as vulnerable children or naive children and then that perpetrator will seek them out and will travel great distances. Here Lady Lakes, Chiefland and Jacksonville."
Others didn't travel far to meet with these underage girls. Two of the men live in Gainesville. Like 19-year-old University of Florida student Pierce Harrell.
"You can not profile a sexual predator or sexual offender because they are average people. People like them, kids like them," said Deputy Shawn Pagal.
Some may show some kind of sign. Dylan Kestel, who was arrested, shared a Facebook photo that read "age is just a number and jail is just a room." It was posted five days before he was arrested.
Residents like Strope said it makes her feel a little bit safier that these men were caught.
"Seems like you can't have enough of people trying to look out and protect your children," said Strope.
The Alachua County Sheriffs Office, Gainevsille Police Department and Alachua Police Department were all part of Operation TailSpin.
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