Kaitlyn Pearson/The Ledger
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 7:54 a.m.
LAKELAND — Among 128 suspects arrested in an undercover Polk County Sheriff's Office operation were three men who live in other states.
Operation Grand Slam targeted human trafficking with detectives focusing on prostitutes posting online ads, “johns” looking for prostitutes, pimps looking to profit from prostitution and online predators looking for contact with children, according to the Sheriff's Office. The Lakeland Police Department worked with the Sheriff's Office during the investigation, which started May 31 and ended Sunday.
Detectives posted fictitious ads and responded to ads posted on the website backpage.com.
“We have set a record here,” Judd said of the number of arrests.
Jae-il Byun, 24, of Havertown, Pa., offered $60 to a detective posing as a 14-year-old girl in exchange for sex. Judd said Byun is a security designer with Professional Systems Engineering in Lansdale, Pa., and came to Florida for vacation.
He told detectives he has a high government security clearance, Judd said.
Daniel Ascher, 52, of Courtland, N.Y., talked by phone to all of the undercover detectives in the operation, and Judd said, he was talking while his wife was nearby. After his arrest, he told detectives he was in the area for a work conference and works for Atlas Air.
According to arrest reports, Ascher traveled to the undercover location Sunday. He went inside the location, but then left almost immediately. Ascher changed his mind again and returned a second time, agreeing to pay the undercover detective $140 in exchange for sex.
Miguel Umanzor-Perez, 29, of Providence, R.I., was charged with offer/commit/engage in lewdness. Umanzor-Perez posted an ad on backpage.com offering services. When Umanzor-Perez arrived at the undercover location, he told the undercover detective he would engage in sex in exchange for $350. He was in the area for work.
Of the 128 arrested, 69 had previous criminal arrests and three had been to state prison. Judd said four of the suspects contacted undercover detectives seeking children whom they believed to be 14 years old.
The Sheriff's Office said there were 78 suspects who offered sex in exchange for money, 32 who offered money in exchange for sex and 11 who drove prostitutes to locations to profit from the exchange.
At least one woman appeared to be a victim of human trafficking.
A 27-year-old woman from Kissimmee was brought to the undercover location by Jason Fraser and Joel Dipre. She told the detective she would engage in sex in exchange for $400, which she would then have to give to Fraser and Dipre. The victim, whose name is being withheld, told detectives she receives monthly public assistance. She has been arrested previously and charged with two felony and four misdemeanor charges.
Judd said, in addition to Byun, three other men were identified as possible child predators.
— Jordan Raskin, 31, of Longwood, traveled to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. Raskin told detectives he was “much older” and said he was “kinda into younger girls.”
— Michael Davis, 53, of Kissimmee, thought he was talking to a 14-year-old boy and asked for nude photos. Judd said Davis works as a ride mechanic at Universal Studios.
— Micah Casper, 25, of Davenport, contacted a detective who was posing as a 14-year-old boy. Casper offered to send nude images of himself, Judd said. The Sheriff's Office said the conversation was explicit and profane.
Others arrested included:
— Robert Jenkins, 50, of Lakeland, who saw law enforcement activity near the sting location and asked the undercover detective if she was a cop. Judd said she told Jenkins no but that she still liked doughnuts and asked if he would bring her some when he arrived. He went to a convenience store, where he stayed until the detective called back to say the cops had cleared the area. Jenkins, who listed his employer as Specialty Concrete Services, then returned with a bag of chocolate doughnuts.
“It's true. Cops do like doughnuts, and she was really a cop,” Judd said. “With all those signs, he still showed up.”
It is not clear what Jenkins saw that alerted him to the presence of law enforcement officers, but Judd said there were cars with red and blue lights and identifiable deputies standing in front of the location. Donna Wood, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said there was a lot of activity going on around the undercover location, with 128 people showing up.
— Wejdan Alomari, 25, of Miami brought her three children to the location while her boyfriend sat in the car and smoked marijuana, Judd said.
— Terri Ward, 19, and Tevarius Mincey, 21, both of Orlando, brought Tasers with them that were hidden in their bras.
— Corey Pritchard, 33, of Ocala, brought a .40-caliber handgun with him.
Judd said Heather Linton, 46, said she was still trying to pay off court costs from the last time she was arrested in an undercover sex sting.
"We conduct investigations such as this one to expose the criminal misconduct and behavior people engage in online and through mobile apps,” Judd said. "We have learned over many years that when we pay attention to public order and quality of life crimes such as prostitution, we can reduce and prevent other crimes while strengthening the community.”
— Kaitlyn Pearson can be reached at email@example.com 863-802-7516. Follow her on Twitter @KR_Pearson.
To view a list of suspects arrested in Operation Grand Slam, click here.
Read the original story here.