Shawn Gray of Miami, Florida and Carlos Martinez of Cape Coral, Florida were reportedly arrested along with 29 others in an undercover juvenile sex operation conducted by Sarasota County detectives, according to press reports. The arrests reportedly took place last week between Monday and Saturday at a home in Sarasota County. The exact location of the arrests has not been disclosed.
The defendants are believed to have been booked at Sarasota County Jail, and it is not publicly known whether any of them have qualified for bail bond. It is similarly unknown whether any of the defendants has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
The 31 defendants were reportedly apprehended as part of a sex offense sting spearheaded by Sarasota County officials. The sting, entitled "Operation Intercept," was carried out with help from several other departments and agencies, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Floria State Attorney's Office. Area police departments, including those of Venice, North Port, and Manatee County also purportedly participated in the operation.
News reports indicate that the sting was conducted by undercover officers who posed as teenagers, children, or parents thereof on the Internet. It is not entirely clear what sites the detectives utilized, although Craigslist has played a role in other similar area stings and likely did in this one as well. Whether the sites knew of the undercover activity prior to media releases on the subject also remains unknown.
Officers reportedly engaged in conversations with the defendants online and eventually arranged to meet them at a home in Sarasota County to engage in sexual activity. Some of the defendants allegedly arranged to meet teens and children through undercover officers posing as parents; in some cases, reports indicate that defendants arranged to pay the parents for sex with underage children. Sources denote that detectives recorded alleged correspondences with the defendants to be used as evidence in legal proceedings. Detectives also reportedly placed surveillance cameras in the home where the defendants arranged to meet the children.
Some officials have purportedly indicated that more arrests may take place. Some people reportedly arranged to meet children for sex, but did not show up at the arranged meeting point, according to a spokesperson. It is not yet known whether those who did not come to the meeting point will still face prosecution.
According to news reports, all of the defendants are male, and their ages range from 21 (Matthew Weavers of Fort Myers, Kevin Williams of Irvine, California) to 61 (James Madison of Port Charlotte). One of the more notorious defendants is Shawn Gray, a U.S. Coast Guard Judge Advocate General Corps lieutenant commander and attorney based out of Miami, Florida. It is yet unknown whether Madison's position with the coast guard is in jeopardy as a result of the allegations. Gray has purportedly been accused of attempting to meet an 8-year-old girl for sex. He was charged with use of a computer and traveling to seduce, solicit or entice a child to commit sex acts, along with many of the other defendants.
Another defendant with a law-related job is Carlos Martinez, who reportedly is an IT worker at Lee County Courthouse. The circumstances behind his arrest are not entirely clear.