LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Detectives announced the arrest of 10 people following an online sex sting operation in Lake County.
The sting, dubbed Operation Flip Flop, was part of a four-day operation by the Lake County sheriff’s office and several other Central Florida law enforcement agencies, targeting individuals looking to meet up with children for sex.
During the operation, suspects thought they were meeting up with children for “inappropriate activities,” when in fact they were really talking to detectives posing as 13- or 14-year-old children.
After arranging to meet, the suspects would travel to a predetermined location, where they were arrested.
Among those arrested was an Apopka firefighter, Clark Allen Mason.
According to an arrest report, Mason thought he was arranging to meet with a 14-year-old girl, when in fact it was an undercover detective.
Mason allegedly told the detective that if they met they would have to “destroy all the evidence” and that they “have to be extremely careful”.
After his arrest, Mason admitted to deputies that he thought he was meeting with a 14-year-old for sex.
In a statement, the Apopka fire department said that Mason, who is a fire engineer, had been placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
Speaking about the arrests, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell said operations like these illustrate the importance of monitoring children’s activities online.
“Parents need to know who their children are communicating with on the internet,” Grinnell said.
Also arrested during the sting were three registered sex offenders: Scott Allen Fureman of Leesburg, Frederick Curtis of Eustis and Billy Childress of Sorrento.
All were arrested and booked into the Lake County jail.