‘Operation Grim Reaper’ nets 22 arrests

October 20th, 2010 by Staff

INVERNESS, Fla – Undercover deputies in Citrus County netted 22 arrests in a week-long operation dubbed “Operation Grim Reaper”.

Deputies posed as young girls and boys and posted ads on online dating sites, including craigslist. In some of the ads, deputies posed as parents, looking for sexual activity for their teenagers.

“This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. This is the crime you never see,” said Sheriff Jeff Dawsey.

When men arrived in at an undisclosed house in Citrus County to meet what they believed were 12-14 year-old girls, they were met instead by undercover deputies.

“As a Sheriff, not very often we have the opportunity to stand in front of you and say we saved 22 young people.” Dawsey said.

The suspects included an engineer, substitute teacher, firefighter, volunteer youth minister and a young man about to enlist in the U.S. Navy. They traveled from all over Florida, some as far away as Sarasota, Polk, Marion, and Alachua Counties, to name a few.

Eighteen of the men brought condoms.

Many of the suspects said they ‘ruined their lives,’ according to one lieutenant.”

“A lot of them kept saying it over and over, that their life was over, that they lost their job.”

The arrests began a week ago Monday, and ended Sunday, and Dawsey said more arrests could follow.

“We couldn’t be more satisfied with the results of this special operation,” said Lt. Dave DeCarlo, who supervises the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit. “This was the first operation of such magnitude conducted by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, and it took the combined efforts of several different agencies to make Operation Grim Reaper the success that it was.”

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