Statewide Operation Targeting Online Predators Nets 126 Arrests

In an intensive statewide effort, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials arrested 126 people on charges involving online enticement of minors for sex and possession and distribution of child pornography. The arrests were part of Operation Eviction, a proactive five-month initiative that targeted individuals who prey on children online, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey announced today. The operation ran from Jan. 1 - May 31, 2007.

"Florida's law enforcement will not tolerate individuals who prey on the innocence of a child," FDLE Commissioner Bailey said. "Cyber crime cases almost always cross jurisdictions. Operation Eviction is an example of agencies pulling their resources together with one goal in mind - protecting our children."

During the operation, 261 investigations were initiated and 87 search warrants were executed. Those arrested represent 28 counties. The operation resulted in the seizure of multiple personal computers and hard drives, digital cameras and video equipment, and thousands of child pornography images.

"The importance of presenting a united front against cyber criminals, when we are trying to protect our children, can not be over emphasized," said Attorney General Bill McCollum. "Internet predators know no geographical boundaries, and we must fully cooperate to effectively cover our state with our protective efforts. This operation has achieved phenomenal results and my office will soon have 50 additional staff members in the CyberCrime Unit to assist in these endeavors."

Operation Eviction was a coordinated effort by Florida's law enforcement community in support of the U.S. Attorney General's Project Safe Childhood, which aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children by pulling together resources. Participants included the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Computer Crime Center, Florida Office of Attorney General Child Predator CyberCrime Unit, North Florida and South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, U.S. Attorney General's Office, FBI's Innocent Images Task Force and local law enforcement.

Acting U.S. Attorney James R. Klindt stated, "The United States Attorney's Offices in Florida are committed to vigorously prosecuting child pornography and exploitation cases under the Attorney General's highest priority, Project Safe Childhood. Together with our state and local partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue and incarcerate for the longest terms possible those who would use the Internet to prey on Florida's children."

For more information, contact:
Susie Murphy
FDLE Orlando
(407) 540-3805

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001