Operation Sentinel began in January 2007 as a 10-week long online undercover operation designed to locate individuals possessing and distributing child pornography via the internet.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Computer Crimes Unit obtained child pornography from suspects located in Polk County while working in an undercover capacity online.
The Bureau of Special Investigations executed search warrants at each residence during the week of January 22, 2007. The search warrants resulted in the seizure of pertinent computer evidence and all suspects made admissions to possessing child pornography.
A forensics examination was conducted by the Computer Crimes Unit that resulted in additional charges. On Wednesday, March 7, 2007 arrest warrants were obtained and the suspects were arrested on Thursday, March 8, 2007.
The success of this operation was as a result of a joint effort between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office and Attorney General Bill McCollum’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.
Upon learning of the completion of the operation Sheriff Grady Judd expressed his concern regarding those who prey on children, “The same predators we protect our children from on the playground walk boldly into our homes through the Internet.”
“We want to send a clear message to online predators and collectors of child pornography who abuse our children, this type of behavior will not be tolerated in Polk County,” said Sheriff Judd.
Mark Swenson, W/M, DOB 6/17/59 47, 4800 Pheasant Drive, Mulberry - Search Warrant Served 1/24/07, 5 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Terrence Baker, B/M, DOB 12/05/85, 3150 Pyramid Parkway, Apt. 12, Lakeland - Search Warrant Served 1/24/07, 42 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Michael Merritt, W/M, DOB 1/29/61, 50989 HWY 27, Lot 85, Davenport - Search Warrant Served 1/23/07, 42 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Stanley Schneider, W/M 6/2/65, 340 E Swoope St, Lake Alfred - Search Warrant Served 1/23/07, 51 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Kenneth Parker, W/M, DOB 10/13/81, 347 Audubon Oaks Dr. Apt. 302, Lakeland - Warrant Served 1/23/07, 5 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Charles Totherow, W/M, DOB 9/30/78, 6241 Springwoods Lane, Lakeland - Warrant Served 1/25/07, 5 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Theodore Weir, W/M, DOB 12/21/60, 146 Manseau Drive, Winter Haven - Search Warrant Served 1/22/07, 59 counts Possession of Child Pornography, 1 count Tampering with or Fabricating Physical Evidence
Clifford Sutton, W/M, DOB 1/8/54, 1828 Moose Drive, Lakeland - Search Warrant Served 1/22/07, 1 count Allowing access to Child Pornography, 6 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Sterling Bullard, W/M, DOB 6/9/88, 121 James St., Auburndale - Search Warrant Served 2/1/07, 3 counts Allowing Access to Child Pornography, 19 counts Possession of Child Pornography
Edward Dameron, W/M, DOB 8/22/61, 539 Lady Diana Drive, Davenport - Search Warrant Served 1/23/07, Deceased
David Kent, WM, DOB 2/14/1974, 1034 Lakeshore Drive, Lakeland, Search Warrant Served 01/25/07, 1 Count Possession of Child Pornography
Florida ranks third in the nation in volume of child pornography. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. ICAC consists of 46 task forces nationwide dedicated to combating child exploitation and online pornography via the Internet.