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Former firefighter, Amazon worker among men accused of online solicitation of sex from minors

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams on Tuesday announced the arrests of 26 men accused of online solicitation of sex from minors.

At a news conference, Williams said the suspects communicated with undercover officers, meetings were arranged and arrests were made between June 23 to 27 as part of Operation Endgame.

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All are facing second- and third-degree felonies and could face up to 25 years in prison.

Most of the suspects are from the Jacksonville area, but one is from Kilgore, Texas, another is from Brunswick, and another one is from the Fort Myers area.

The suspects range in age from 21 to 59.

Arrests reports reveal that they held a variety of jobs and included a former firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, a tire shop technician, and other people employed by Amazon, Walmart and FedEx.

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Officers posed as minors online, in some cases as a 14-year-old girl, and in one case a 13-year-old boy, according to court documents.

In one report, a suspect texted an undercover agent saying “age is just a number.”

Some of the interactions starting on dating websites, including the site Plenty of Fish.

Investigators say the suspects arranged to meet with teens for sex, but when they got there, they were met with law enforcement.

Other agencies involved include the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Baker County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and state attorney’s office. Williams said these agencies will continue to work hard to stop predators.

“As law enforcement officers, there’s no higher priority than safeguarding the children of our community, so the men and woman of all of these agencies up here will do that with a relentless effort to remove child predators from our streets,” Williams said. “There’s no shortage of suspects in these cases. It’s a challenge, but obviously something we continue to focus on.”

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The sheriff said the reason why the announcement about Operation Endgame is coming out months after the arrests is because there were spinoff investigations related to these cases and he wanted to make sure he didn’t jeopardize any other investigations related to online solicitation of sex from minors.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.



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