23 child predators arrested in Sarasota County sting

Sarasota County

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested 23 people during a sting operation focused on catching child sex predators.

The four-day operation netted men ranging in age from 21 to 77.

The sheriff’s office says one of the suspects is visiting from Oklahoma and drove from Lakeland, thinking he was going to have sex with a 14-year-old.

Colonel Kurt Hoffman with the Sarasota Sheriff’s office says child predators are changing the way they go after children.

“They are going to social media, they’re going to the apps. These 15 apps that we’ve published previously to lure children. We are going to add 6 to that collection,” said Hoffman.

One suspect drove from Crystal River on a suspended license, thinking he would have sex with a 14-year-old. That person sent more than 90 explicit photos of himself to a person he believed was a child.

Many of the suspects arrived with condoms. One suspect arrived with a sex toy.

The sheriff’s office says the suspects come from a wide variety of backgrounds.

“I think there is one thing we’ve learned through all of these operations, we’ve made hundreds of arrests in this area unfortunately, it covers the broad spectrum,” said Hoffman.

“Ultimately all 23 arrestees traveled with the intent of having sex with a male or female child,” the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff Tom Knight warned parents to be wary of what their children are doing online.

“I wish I could say these operations were no longer needed but time and time again, even after we make dozens of arrests, these men keep coming back for more,” Sarasota County Sheriff Knight said. “In this digital world we live in, innocent children are far too accessible to predators. That is why, as parents, we have to get serious about prevention. Parents are the first line of defense and we will never stop reminding our community of that.”

The men are:

  • Dwight Harris, 29, of Port Charlotte, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and transmission of harmful material.
  • William Heagney, 45, of Crystal River, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery, possession of child pornography and 91 counts of transmission of harmful material.
  • John Inga, 28, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Hamid Keshmirian, 62, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Jakari King, 29, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Cody Mathis, 34, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Ernest Panebianco, 65, of Osprey, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • David Perez-Mendez, 25, of Tampa, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Judson Perkins, 32, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and two counts of transmission of harmful material.
  • James Persons, 77, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Elias Pineda-Gamez, 29, of Bradenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Demetris Roberts, 30, of Palmetto, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts, attempted lewd or lascivious battery and violation of probation.
  • Randy Royce, 48, of , Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Kristopher Ryan, 37, of Ellenton, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Manikanta Sunkara, 26, of Tampa, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.
  • Kenneth Thompson, 23, of Sarasota, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act and traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts.
  • William Zimmerman, 23, of North Port, is charged with use of a computer to solicit a child to commit a sex act, traveling to solicit a child to commit sex acts and attempted lewd or lascivious battery.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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