VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Seven men were arrested and charged in Volusia County as part of an undercover sting called Operation Unlawful Attraction, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
Investigators said the men were chatting online with detectives who they thought were children.
Detectives said they chatted with more than 50 people, seven of whom met with them at gas stations in Dayton Beach and Deltona. The suspects range in age from 22 to 49.
Deputies said Jonathan Hayes, 22, of Eustis, previously worked at a youth camp. Officials said he told a detective who he thought was a 14-year-old girl about a previous sexual encounter he had with a 16-year-old girl.
Deputies said George Wallace, 43, of South Daytona, was involved in a previous sting operation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office two years ago. They said he chatted with a detective who he thought was a girl, but he never tried to meet up with the girl.
In this most recent case, Wallace traveled to a RaceTrac gas station in Daytona Beach, where he was met by a deputy who arrested him, investigators said.
He also told an undercover deputy with whom he was chatting online that he has had sexual relations with a 15-year-old more than once, officials said. %
Investigators said James Bowen, 34, of Gainesville, was arrested after traveling to meet someone who he thought was a 14-year-old girl. They said he told them he thought it was an undercover sting and thought it would be "cool" to see it in action.
The sting began Wednesday and ended early Sunday.
The suspects each face the following charges: use of a computer to seduce, solicit or lure a child; travel to seduce seduce, solicit or lure a child; attempted lewd or lascivious battery; and use of a two-way communication device to commit a felony.
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