POLK COUNTY, Fla — They spent seven days undercover – in front of computer screens – posing as boys and girls on social media and online dating sites.

Detectives found exactly what they were looking for.

16 men were arrested and charged with a total of 42 felonies in a multi-agency operation led by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. According to a news release, detectives from Hillsborough, Desoto, Lake and Osceola counties participated alongside officers from the Tampa and Altamonte Springs police departments.

Jorge Hernandez Lopez, 44

Detectives say he’s from Davenport, and he had an online conversation with someone he thought was a 14-year-old boy. According to a news release, he asked the “boy” to send photos – then asked to meet him – and was arrested when he showed up.

Lopez is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery and using a computer to seduce a child.

Donald Paul Diem Jr, 33

According to the release, he asked a “14-year-old girl” to send photos of herself in the shower. Diem is accused of driving to meet her – but quickly found out it was a sting.

Detectives say he’s a married Navy veteran with two children who works at Disney Vacation Club.

Diem is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Jose Salgado, 28

He’s an assistant youth soccer coach in Plant City, and he’s accused of having a sexual conversation with a detective who was posing as a 13-year-old girl.

The news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office states he told the “girl” he was OK with her age “if she was OK with his”. Detectives say he drove to meet the girl, but he was met by deputies instead.

Salgado is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

William Russel Bronson, 44

Detectives say he told a “14-year-old boy” to send nude pictures of himself, and told him they could “mess around” in his SUV so the boy could “get some experience.”

Bronson is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Maxwell Anthony, 29

He had condoms in his pocket, when detectives say he showed up in an Uber to meet a “13-year-old girl” he had been talking to online.

Anthony is from Orlando. He’s charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Jimmie Rush Jr, 30

He’s accused of having a sexual conversation online with a detective posing as a 14-year-old – and sent him nude pictures – before driving to meet him.

Detectives say he works at Universal Orlando, and he’s charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery, transmission of material harmful to minors and use of a computer to seduce a child.

Matthew Budd, 22

Detectives say he works at LEGOLAND, and told a “14-year-old boy” they could “make out and stuff” in the bathrooms, if the boy could get a ride to the theme park.

He has a long arrest record that includes sexual battery and cyber stalking.

Budd is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery and transmission of material harmful to a minor.

Mitchell Gaunt, 59

He told detectives he has nine grandchildren.

According to the news release, he was talking to a “14-year-old” girl and showed up the next day to meet her.

He was met with handcuffs instead and charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Christian Buford, 21

He’s the youngest person arrested in this undercover operation. Detectives say he had an online conversation with a detective posing as a 12-year-old girl.

According to the news release, Buford attends Liberty University and is enrolled in flight school.

Buford allegedly told detectives he only planned to receive oral sex, and “he thought it was OK.”

He’s charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Miguel Caez Jr, 26

Detectives say he told them he’s homeless, and he’s accused of having an online conversation with a “13-year-old girl.”

According to the news release, Caez is on probation.

He’s charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a computer to seduce a child and attempted lewd battery.

Nicholas Sydnes, 27

According to the news release, he brought condoms and drove to meet a “14-year-old girl.”

Detectives say he told her online – “I’ll be honest, I’m on a dating app to either talk to girls about dirty things or meet up. Are you OK with that?”

Bhavya Shah, 24

According to a news release, Shah told a “14-year-old” he’s working to earn his master’s degree and become a pharmacist.

Detectives say, when he showed up the meet the child, he asked if he could receive a ticket instead of being arrested.

Shah was booked and charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Eric Michael Chachick, 28

He’s from Ruskin, and detectives say he asked a “13-year-old” girl to send him a nude picture.

Then, he’s accused of trying to meet with her at a park but left without meeting “the girl.”

Deputies got a warrant and arrested him a few days later.

Chachick is charged with using a two-way communication device to commit a felony and transmission of material harmful to minors.

Paul Lagerblade, 48

He’s from Brooksville, and he’s accused of having a sexual conversation with a “13-year-old girl” online.

Detectives say Lagerblade discussed taking the girl to a hotel room and answered a sting advertisement from a detective posing as a mother with a 13-year-old daughter.

According to a news release, Lagerblade offered to pay $150 to have sex with the girl, and told the “mother” he served six years in prison for trying to have sex with a minor – so he was nervous about this being a setup.

He’s charged with using a computer to seduce a child and using a computer to solicit a parent to consent to the participation of a child committing a sex act.

Carlos Javier Torres-Torres, 28

He’s accused of setting up a meeting with a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Detectives say he told her he would bring condoms “so she wouldn’t get pregnant,” but he left when he saw other people outside the meeting place.

According to the news release, he accused the girl of “playing games” and said he was hurt because he was going to be “so loving.”

Torres-Torres is charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and attempted lewd battery.

Jason Griffith, 39

He’s from Daytona Beach, and detectives say he told a “13-year-old” girl online “the things he wanted to do to her.”

Griffith is accused of sending nude pictures of himself, and asking the “girl” to send pictures too.

He’s charged with using a two-way communication device to commit a felony, transmission of material harmful to a minor and using a computer to seduce a child.

POLK COUNTY SEX STING MUGS
Polk County Sheriff's Office

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