Hernando County, Florida -- Hernando County Sheriff's deputies have formed a task force called Operation Safe Child to protect the county's children and get sexual predators off the streets.
The initiative started after deputies noticed thousands of arrest warrants piling up in the judicial system. When deputies went to find one wanted man on their list, it turned out he was on a boat traveling the world as a marine merchant.
"My number one concern was he was on a ship, could offend anywhere anyone. We wanted to make sure our children were safe," said Captain Harold J. Hutchinson.
Deputies say not knowing the whereabouts of that man, Mark Leiteri, was a red flag. They say he was wanted for a sexual crime involving someone with developmental disabilities. So they got a team together to focus on warrants – particularly for sex crimes.
Dozens of arrests have been made but nine others still on the loose, and deputies say they're having a hard time finding them.
Deputies say some cases of alleged sexual predators go back 25 years and some of those that are wanted are reportedly out of state.
"We know people can leave the area and assume other identities. Not saying it's happened here, but that's a scenario. Sometimes investigative efforts are hampered by that," said Capt. Hutchinson.
And deputies hope getting this information out to you will change that. Click here to see more on those sought by deputies.
Please contact the Hernando County Sheriff's Office if you have any helpful information their whereabouts.