The Dirtiest Trick Used to Entrap Internet Sting Targets

Like clockwork, the commenters on the Operation Safe Summer are wholeheartedly in support of locking up these “perverts” and throwing away the keys. Some on Facebook suggested we dispense with due process and just take them out and shoot them. I doubt the general public realizes that many of those arrested in these type of sting operations are not the “real monsters and real scary, creepy people” that the Sheriff suggested they were the last time around, when LCSO did Operation Spider Web. Half a dozen people from that operation were acquitted. Several of the targets arrested were only teenagers, themselves, and this operation tagged several men who were barely over 20.

I discussed how these operations are set up for a high risk of entrapping people in my post yesterday, but I didn’t include one of law enforcement’s favorite tricks to entice non-criminals into being arrested. Law enforcement, including the task forces that usually propagate these internet sting operations like to claim that their decoys are acting as 14 or 15-year-olds. That sounds creepy when 70-year-olds are arrested fro trying to meet with them, but not so much when its other teenagers. What’s worse, and this is the really outrageous trick that law enforcement uses, is that they will send photographs of OLDER undercover agents in place of the supposedly younger decoys.

That’s right, agents will send their targets pictures of older, more developed decoys than they are posing as. Sometimes they’ll even send bikini pics. The precept that they are targeting perverts is blown out of the water when they use photos of older, more mature decoys.

Many times, the decoy photos may even be of legal age. The age of consent in Florida is 16 if the partner is under 24. Some of the pictures used in these operations feature 16 and 17-year-old decoy photos. That’s especially egregious when they are arresting 20-year-olds and younger. They can still prosecute the case, and they still do, even when the decoy photograph is of someone of legal age to have contact with a target. That’s dirty pool. That’s why people get acquitted from these crappy internet sting operations. Maybe this time is different, but time will tell when the details of Operation Safe Summer are released.

More details in yesterday’s post:


10 responses to “The Dirtiest Trick Used to Entrap Internet Sting Targets

  1. One the guys is someone i know very well and he is only 22 if the police used photos of 16 -17 years old its not fair, hes a good college student with a bright future now his life is ruined. But also the article said the girl used was 14 and the men knew that.

    • The cops always allege that the suspects communicated with “a person he believed to be a fourteen (14) year old” because it’s an element of the offense. The last time around, during operation Spider Web, it turned out that several of the suspects did not believe the person to be underage. In one case, the suspect never even got the email where the decoy claimed to be underage. It’s an allegation that the state must prove… and they couldn’t on several of the cases the last time around…

      • Do you believe the police department finally learned from spiderweb and could have a strong case. Also, will there be updates to operation safe summer on this website?

  2. I’d hope they learned something after so many cases got thrown out last time, but we don’t know yet. I’ll post some updates, but there usually aren’t many news stories on these things for me to follow: they tend to do do press conferences for the arrests, but not when the defendants are acquitted…

  3. There are many cases around Florida dealing with the ICAC sting operations. For a view from the victims of this type of bait and switch entrapment stings please go to There you can see the other side of the sting, mothers, grandmothers, fathers, wives sibblings and friends who are in support of the men trapped in these illegal operations.

  4. Pingback: The Dirtiest Trick, Revisited | crimcourts : A Criminal Law Blog

  5. all you have to do is look at the statistics on these highly publicized sting operations that show they are not catching the right men. Creating criminals should be a crime itself and the government is GUILTY of doing so

  6. Early indications are that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office didn’t learn anything from Operation Spider Web and Operation Safe Summer was “business as usual”. Information hasn’t been filed for every case yet but one case has already been dropped by the State and for the rest of the cases where information has been filed at least 2 charges have already been dropped so the defendants are only facing 1 count of 847.0135(4) now.

  7. Pingback: Florida’s Sex-Sting Operations Have Gone Statewide | crimcourts : A Criminal Law Blog

  8. Pingback: Child Sex Investigator Arrested for Child Sex Offenses | crimcourts : A Criminal Law Blog

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