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The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested 18 child sex predators who solicited sex acts with minors and rescued a human trafficking victim, authorities said Tuesday.
As a result of an operation dubbed “Operation Wanderlust,” undercover officers made more than 300 online contacts and arrested 18 people, half of them accused of traveling to meet underage victims, according to a statement from police in the west Florida county.
In “Operation Wanderlust,” detectives were able to locate and rescue two 15-year-old girls. One had a history of being a victim of commercial sex trafficking and another was in the process of being groomed by a 41-year-old man to participate in his rape fantasies, the release details.
The defendants face several charges including attempted lewd battery and traveling to meet a minor after using computer services or devices to solicit certain illegal acts, among others.
During online discussions, the release details, the suspects solicited sexual acts by posing as teenagers, sent inappropriate photos and agreed to drive to Hillsborough County to meet their potential victims and have sex.
According to authorities, the suspects, including an elementary school principal, were from the Tampa Bay area, and one even traveled from Boca Raton on Florida’s east coast.
The release cites the name of Eduardo Antonio Iglesias Amaya, who was arrested twice during the course of the operation and has been charged with 18 counts of child pornography after a search warrant led investigators to disturbing material on his phone.