Statewide child sex sting nets 132 arrests

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A statewide operation cracked down on child sex predators across Florida.

Detectives went undercover on the Internet to arrest 132 people in an investigation that spanned from the panhandle to south Florida.

The Florida Sheriffs Association considers child cyber sex crimes to be its highest priority.

It’s why law enforcement urges parents to know who kids are talking to online.

This statewide task force set up the undercover operation from March until July. All suspects were arrested for trying to sexually exploit kids.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri described what one of those arrested people said in a chat room.

“He specifically said anywhere from diapers to 11-year-old was OK with him,” said Gualtieri.

The out-going president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association promised more stings in the future.

“There are predators out there now that we didn’t get in the last roundup, but let me promise you one thing, we’ll get you in the next round-up,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

Investigators explained geographical boundaries don’t exist for crimes that start on the Internet.

Many of those arrested would interact online and then drive long distances, in some cases to other states, to meet-up.