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50 arrested in Fla.'s "Operation SpiderWeb" sex sting

POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS yellow crime scene tape, over a police flashing light and handcuffs AP / CBS

AP / CBS
(CBS) - A youth pastor, a Disney employee, a federal corrections officer and 47 others were arrested in an online child-sex sting carried out by the Orange County Sheriff's Office, investigators say. 

The Orlando Sentinel reports that "Operation SpiderWeb" was a week-long sting to take down suspects involved in exploiting and preying on children over the Internet.

The operation took out website ads that offered "fun" with children in private locations. NBC affiliate WFTV says that deputies posed as parents pimping out their kids, or as the teenagers themselves.

Suspects allegedly spoke with undercover deputies online and answered the ads, traveling to an Orange County house expecting to engage in sexual activities with minors.

Police said that upon their arrival the suspects were met at the door by an undercover agent posing as a mother, and shortly after entering the home they were arrested by several deputies. In one arrest, a man was said to be holding a knife while brought down.

"This was a very significant operation," Sheriff Jerry Demings said. "We are sending a clear message that we will not tolerate this."

He estimates the week-long operation cost his office between $50,000 and $75,000. "It was well worth it because we arrested 50 individuals who were trying to prey on children. We stopped some child from being preyed upon," Deming said.

Those arrested ranged in age between 19 and 67. Seventeen suspects live in Orange County while the rest reportedly traveled to the house from out of state. The suspects told investigators they frequently met people online and looked at websites offering "fun" with minors. None have been previously arrested, police say.

The sheriff's office says that most of the 50 people arrested have since bonded out of jail.


  • Katie Wiggin

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