Operation Child Protector V Busts Child Predators in Polk County, Tampa Bay Shocked


In a coordinated effort involving multiple law enforcement agencies, seven individuals have been apprehended in Polk County following an intensive undercover operation targeting individuals seeking to exploit children online. With one suspect still evading capture, the community remains on edge as authorities continue their pursuit.

Multi-Agency Collaboration

The investigation, which spanned across various digital platforms, saw collaboration between PCSO and several other law enforcement agencies, including the Auburndale, Davenport, Lakeland, and Lake Wales Police Departments, as well as the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office. This coordinated effort enabled detectives to infiltrate online communities where predators sought to groom and meet vulnerable children.

Details of the Operation

Undercover detectives engaged with suspects who believed they were communicating with either children or adults facilitating access to minors. Five suspects were apprehended at an undercover location in Polk County, where they intended to engage in unlawful sexual activity with minors. Shockingly, some individuals offered hundreds of dollars in exchange for such acts, highlighting the severity of their intentions.

Read: Massive Human Trafficking Bust: 228 Arrested, Including Teachers and Coaches in Polk County

Charges and Suspects

Among the arrested individuals, William Merrill, Larry Hayes, Edmundo Dasilva, Brandon Ray, Hasan Abu Halemeh, Nelson Louis, and Manuel Canasi faced a barrage of charges, including human trafficking, solicitation of minors, and use of communication devices for felonious activities. These charges underscore the gravity of their actions and the necessity for swift and decisive legal action.

Despite the arrests, one suspect, John Adams, remains at large, evading authorities after engaging in online solicitation of a minor. The ongoing search for Adams serves as a reminder of the persistent threat posed by individuals seeking to exploit children for their own gratification.

In response to the arrests, Sheriff Grady Judd emphasized the importance of community vigilance and cooperation in combating child exploitation. He urged anyone with information on the whereabouts of fugitive suspects to come forward and assist law enforcement in ensuring justice is served.