KISSIMMEE – It was called “Spring Cleaning,” but had nothing to do giving a home or business a fresh, polished look.
The name was given to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office’s undercover investigation that landed 12 people in jail, all accused of soliciting sex from a child through the Internet.
One of the suspects even traveled to Osceola County from New York, while all 12 were arrested locally.
Osceola County Sheriff Bob Hansell said the arrests demonstrate how strongly committed his office is to keeping sexual predators out of the county, and protecting local children.
“The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office is committed to aggressively combating this issue, and we will continue to conduct these types of operations to protect our children from these offenders,” Hansell said.
This Internet child sex operation was held for the second time this year. The first undercover operation happened in January.
This second one, dubbed, “Spring Cleaning,” was conducted March 19-25, as detectives conducted a week long, multi-agency, undercover operation. The result of the undercover work, in which detectives posed as juveniles or the parent of a child, was that there were “12 suspects arrested and charged with soliciting sex from a child via the Internet, and other sex and drug related crimes,” noted Twis Lizasuain, public information officer for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrests.
Detectives used chat rooms to find people who were looking for children to have sex with.
“During the operation, undercover detectives, posed as juveniles, or the parent or guardian of a juvenile, to talk with individuals in chat rooms and instant messaging programs on the Internet,” Lizasuain wrote. “Suspects would travel to a meeting location located in Osceola County with the purpose of having sex with a child. One suspect traveled from New York. All the suspects were arrested in Osceola County.”
Hansell also used this case to urge parents to consider taking steps on their own to ensure their children don’t become victims of online sexual predators.
“We can’t stress enough that parents need to monitor and be involved with their child’s computer activities,” he said.
The suspects arrested this week include Christian Acuna, 29, of 3414 Cirque Circle in Orlando, who was charged with using a computer to solicit a parent or guardian, two counts of traveling to meet a child for sex, attempted lewd and lascivious battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 15, and unlawful use of a 2 way Communication device. Acuna, the sheriff’s office noted, works as a cook.
Floyd Drew, 30, of 4522 Ross Lanier Lane, Kissimmee, is a concrete cutter who is now facing similar charges, while Mohamed El Mazid, 39, of 3038 Parkway Boulevard, Kissimmee, is employed as a kiosk clerk, and is also facing charges that include traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd and lascivious battery,.
Justin Charles French, 30, of 4167 Quail Wood Drive, St. Cloud, does pool maintenance, while Matthew Wesley Hope, 26, of 105 Holborn Loop, Davenport, is a financial analysts. Both are being charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and other charges.
John Scott Huebner, 49, of 7220 Lake Drive, Orlando, works in real estate; Willie James Inman, Jr., 30, of 2412 Ware Drive, West Palm Beach, is a janitor; and Jerrid Michaels Jackson, 23, of 1301 Josepehines St., Lakeland, is a mover. They also are being charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex.
Brandon Lee Luong, 32, of 907 Alaska Drive, Ocoee, whose occupation isn’t listed, and Scott Patrick Mulligan, 37, of 720 1st St., Orlando, a car body repair worker, were among those arrested, as was Matthew Sawtelle, 43, of 8911 Ledgestone Lane, Port Richey, whose occupation isn’t known.
Fawaz Shahid, 36, traveled the farthest, coming from 2775 E. 12th St., Brooklyn, N.Y., and now is in the Osceola County Jail, charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, unlawful use of a two way communication device, attempted lewd and lascivious battery, and use of a computer service to solicit child to commit sex occupation. Despite his ability to travel from New York City to Central Florida, the sheriff’s office says Shahid is currently unemployed.
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