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The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has arrested 12 people in Operation Intercept III, an initiative to protect Sarasota County children from online predators, the office has announced. Suspects ranging in age from 20 to 50 "responded to Internet-based ads, online apps or social media sites and engaged in sexually explicit written and verbal conversations," a news release explains. "One of the suspects is an armed security guard who thought he was going to have sex with a mother and her 12-year-old daughter," the release adds. Some of the men sent explicit photos and one brought drugs, it says. For another example, it notes, "A 44-year-old man agreed to get a 14-year-old girl pregnant." The release con- tinues, "Ultimately, they all traveled with the intent to have sex with a male or female child." "You would think the frequency of Internet predator operations here in Sarasota County and surrounding jurisdictions would reduce the number of criminals prowling online for the sole purpose of sexually exploiting chil- dren," said Sheriff Tom Knight in the release. "Most adults probably aren't aware of the sites kids are using, so law enforcement will continue to stand between children and these disturbed individuals, but parents need to pay attention to what your kids are doing online. Be a parent," he added. "It's OK to check." The following suspects were arrested in this three-day operation and charged with the following: • Brian Hawley, 37, of 17678 Sabal Palm Drive North, Fort Myers; Use of a Computer to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Act, Travel to Solicit a Child to Commit Sex Acts, Lewd & Lascivious Battery — Attempted, and The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office released a composite of the mug shots of the 12 people arrested in Operation Intercept III. Contributed image 12 ARRESTED IN ONLINE PREDATOR STING IN SARASOTA COUNTY CRIME BLOTTER

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