A dozen high profile arrests have been made in Florida in a child sex sting involving an army colonel, a politician and a top attorney.
In the last week, police in North Florida arrested a dozen men seeking to engage in sexual acts with children.
One was a college student. One, Michael Chmielewski, was the manager of the Florida House of Representatives page and messenger program who oversaw hundreds of teenagers each legislative session since he was hired in 2012. Another was, Dayton Cramer, a retired Army colonel and high-ranking attorney with Florida State University, while another was a retired doctor from Washington State who investigators say was a documented child predator.
What they all had in common was when they made contact with someone they thought was a teen, in reality, they were communicating through email, text, chat rooms and internet ads with undercover officers.
The cases developed out of the sting by the Internet Crimes Against Children task force run by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other local agencies.
It delivered a clear message, said Mark Perez, FDLE special agent in charge of the Tallahassee Regional Operations Center.
"If you prey on our children, we will find you and arrest you," Perez said during a press conference at FDLE's Tallahassee headquarters.
He said during the week-long sting, 19 different law enforcement agencies made eight arrests in the Tallahassee area and took four people into custody near Lake City.
Some of the 12 already were suspects in obscenity cases involving children. Arrests were being made as recently as Thursday when the press conference was held, Perez said.
"While most adults online immediately stop communicating with these investigators," he said. "Once they believed they were children, the 12 suspects arrested during the operation only became more interested."