NewsLocal News


20 men arrested for soliciting sex online from underage children

TPD presser
Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-19 14:11:59-04

UPDATE: April 19, 2013 6:10 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--Twenty men face charges Friday. Many of them are accused of traveling to have sex with who they thought were children.

In an operation called April Fools, the arrests come as a coordinated effort between multiple law enforcement agencies.

"I have grandchildren," said Rheutelia Thompson, a Tallahassee resident. "It does worry me because they're running about this


Thompson says she's surprised to learn that her neighbor, 21-year old Jamal Manuel was among 20 men arrested. Many of them are charged with using the internet to solicit sex from underage children.

"One thing when someone moves in, I'm going to try to find out who they are first, try to meet them and get to know them," said Thompson.

We went to Manuel's home. A woman there told us she didn't know about the arrest.

Investigators allege that Manuel walked a half mile from him home to a place where he thought he was meeting a 14 year old girl he had been chatting with online.

She turned out to be an undercover officer.

He's not alone -- these men were all arrested in a week long sting called April Fools.

"We call them operations," said John Madsen with the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. "These coordinated focused efforts really are a response to a growing problem we see with children having access to the internet at a younger and younger age."

A reserve deputy with the Leon County Sheriff's Office was also arrested. He was fired the same day as his arrest.

Deputies tell us Christopher Harris worked there for about a year.

As for parents, investigators say keep a close eye and know what your child is doing online and who they're talking with online.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Tallahassee Police announced the arrest of 20 people charged with internet crimes against children.

The arrests were made in a week long sting called "April Fools"; a joint operation by Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones says the men are accused of soliciting children for sex online.

Investigators say many of the men traveled to Tallahassee to meet with who they thought were underage children.

WTXL ABC27's Jade Bulecza reports those arrested include men from Valdosta, Bainbridge, and Pavo, Georgia. One person traveled nearly three hours from Andalusia, Alabama.