Operation DUVAL Sting Nets 17 Men Accused Of Trying To Have Sex With Children
Sheriff Mike Williams announced Tuesday the arrests of 17 men accused of soliciting underage girls and boys to arrange to meet in Jacksonville for sex. Two more arrests are pending.
Our News4Jax partner reports that Williams said these men thought they were talking to 13- or 14-year-old girls or boys in chat rooms and other online forums. When they went to meet their victims, the men were met by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office called it Operation DUVAL, standing for Disrupting Underage Virtual Abuse Locally.
The men accused range in age from 19 to 67. Most of them lived in Jacksonville, but some traveled from out of state or Orlando thinking they were meeting a child for sex. Some of them had no prior criminal histories. One was a convicted sexual offender.
One of the men, a victims advocate in North Carolina, was in Jacksonville for a victims advocate conference when he tried to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex.
Williams said this should serve as a reminder to all parents to warn their children about predators and monitor where they are going and who they are talking to online.
One of those arrested was a 30-year-old Navy lieutenant who was picked up by Clay County deputies last Thursday. Michael McNeil was accused of trying to meet 12-year-old deaf girl for sex.
News4Jax is compiling the names and charges against the other men arrested. An updated story will be filed at News4Jax.