16 men were identified and arrested during ‘Operation Small Talk’, an online chat operation in Hillsborough County, Florida. The arrests included a 45-year-old, Michael Daughtry, who was a registered sex offender and a former sergeant with another Tampa Bay area law enforcement agency as well as Melvin Rosa Viera, 31, a member of the Army Reserve, and a 48-year-old, Matthew Jones, who was also charged with more than 50 counts of possession of child pornography.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said, “The repulsive behavior and messages from these 16 suspects arrested were across the board. In some cases, when they showed up to meet these fake teens, they even brought products with them in anticipation of sex. As a parent myself, this type of activity crushes me to my core. No child should suffer at the hands of an adult trying to turn their corrupt fantasies into a reality.”
“Parents we need your help to be vigilant. You need to know who your kids are talking to online and consider using child blocks or passwords on certain websites your children are using. You need to have real, open conversations with your children about the dangers online and what is and is not appropriate for strangers to say to you,”.