A registered sex offender and a St. Petersburg firefighter are among 43 suspects arrested in a sting by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office targeting adults trolling the Internet for sex with minors.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office identiified the 43 suspects arrested in the past week, and their addresses include Manatee, Pinellas, Sarasota, Lake, Hillsborough, Charlotte and Collier counties. A total of 17 men from Manatee County were arrested in the sting. One of the men arrested has an Ohio address but is staying in Lakewood Ranch.
Authorities say the men were going on line to solicit sex with children.
Detectives posing as parents and as children went online to several computer chat rooms that are set up for people to anonymously talk about sex and to set up meetings.
The forum in one of the chat rooms centered on incest. On that site detectives posed as parents offering their children up for sexual encounters.
Detectives in various undercover capacities subsequently set up meetings with the defendants at an undercover residence in Manatee County. The men went to the residence believing they were meeting up with a juvenile for a sexual encounter, authorities said.
The defendants were arrested on charges including Travel to Seduce, Solicit or Entice a Child to Commit Sexual Act and Use of a Computer to Seduce, Solicit or Entice a Child to Commit Sexual Act.
Some of the defendants were also charged with Transmission of Materials harmful to Minors by Electronic Device or Equipment, Lewd and Lascivious Molestation, Attempted Capital Sexual Battery and Possession of Drugs.
Among the suspects from Manatee County arrested was Eugene Marshal, 43, a registered sexual predator. Jeremy Wert, a 35-year-old firefighter from St. Petersburg was also among those arrested.
Here s the list of 17 men from Manatee County who were arrested. For the complete list of the 43 suspects arrested, see Underage Sex Sting Arrest List.Christian K. Williams
42 Siefman, Jerome 68 Jesus Martunez 21 Andres Vasquez 18 James Phillips 21 Christopher Austin 33 Rene Torres 31 Norman Lewis 46 Marco Becerra Florez
54 Derrell Richardson
23 Justin Smith 24 Iqbal Sodhi 51 Eugene Marshall 43 David Friedman 57 Brandt Clark 18 Charles Day 25
The investigation is ongoing with additional arrests and charges forthcoming. FDLE, ICE, the Bradenton Police Department, and the Sarasota, Polk, Lee and Lake County Sheriff’s Offices are assisting in the investigation.
See a complete list of those arrested with their photos.