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WATCH: Eight Facing Charges In Polk Sex Predator Bust | Y100 | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


WINTER HAVEN — Seven men have been arrested and one is wanted connection with a Polk County undercover operation targeting those who seek sex with children.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says they include a school bus mechanic, a civilian employee at MacDill Air Force Base, and a TSA screener at Raleigh-Durham airport.

Judd says the men either paid or offered to pay undercover detectives posing as parents.

One man is still at large: 61-year-old John Adams of Dunedin, who allegedly responded to an ad placed by an undercover detective. Judd says Adams described in “vile” terms what he wanted to do. “He’s a filthy-talking rascal,” Judd said of Adams, and reminded anyone who might know his whereabouts of a $5,000 reward offered by Crimestoppers.

The sheriff also announced 16 registered sex offenders are facing charges for failure to register and probation violations. Several agencies joined the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in “Operation Child Protector V,” including the Auburndale Police Department, Davenport Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, Lake Wales Police Department, and Hardee County Sheriff’s Office.

Watch the sheriff’s news conference below.

Here are the eight arrested or charged in the sting, with charges described by PCSO in a news release:

1. 41-year-old Larry William Hayes, DOB 12/10/1982, of Plant City, FL. Hayes sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. Hayes communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $250.00 to perform sex acts on the child. Hayes also sent several explicit images of his genitalia to the undercover detective. Hayes traveled to the undercover location and was arrested. He told detectives that he is retired from the U.S. Army, and is married with three children.

Hayes was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Human trafficking (FL)

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

2. 37-year-old Edmundo Dasilva, DOB 02/07/1987, of Holly Springs, NC. Dasilva sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $60.00 to perform sex acts on the child. He said that he would be traveling through Florida and would like to meet, and that he had just turned 18 years old. Dasilva traveled to the undercover location and was arrested. He had two condoms in his pocket. He told detectives that he is married and that he works for Homeland Security as a Transportation Security Officer.

Dasilva was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Human trafficking (FL)

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

3. 29-year-old Nelson Louis, DOB 09/06/1994, of Tampa, FL. Louis sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and said he “just wanted to have fun before he went to work.” He agreed to pay $100.00 for a half hour of sex with the child. He traveled to the undercover location and was arrested.

Louis was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Human trafficking (FL)

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

4. 27-year-old Hasan Abu Halemeh, DOB 07/15/1996, of Brandon, FL. Abu Halemeh sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $225.00 to perform sex acts on the child. He asked if the girl was a virgin and if he would be “her first.” He traveled to the undercover location and was arrested.

Abu Halemeh was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Human trafficking (FL)

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

5. 45-year-old Willie Merrill, DOB 03/14/1978, of Plant City, FL. Merrill sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $80.00 to perform sex acts on the child. He traveled to the location with the cash and a condom in his pockets. After being arrested, detectives learned he is a registered sex offender for a 2005 conviction of statutory rape in Georgia. He was previously arrested by PCSO in 2017 during an undercover prostitution investigation, for which he spent 364 days in jail.

Merrill was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Human trafficking (FL)

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

· Attempted traveling to meet a minor (F3)

· Attempted use of computer to solicit guardian (M1)

6. 34-year-old Brandon Ray, DOB 03/28/1989, of Mulberry, FL. Ray sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $100.00 to perform sex acts on the child. He repeatedly asked for photos of the child and also said, “I’ve watched enough to catch a predator show on TV” and also said, “Grady don’t play.” Detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest and took him into custody on March 7, 2024. He told detectives he is a bus mechanic employed by Polk County Public Schools.

Ray was booked into the Polk County Jail and charged with:

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

7. 45-year-old Manuel Canasi, DOB 07/27/1978, of Land O’ Lakes, FL. Canasi sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay $100 for a half hour alone with the child. He sent the undercover detective a screenshot of Sheriff Judd holding a news conference, saying, “That Sheriff out there is a hard a** and doesn’t play.” The suspect tried several times to travel to the undercover location but was unable due to his job and other family obligations (he is married and has a son and two teenaged daughters). Detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest and he was taken into custody in Pasco County.

Canasi is charged with:

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

WANTED:

61-year-old John Adams, DOB 12/18/1962, of Dunedin, FL. Adams sent a social media message in response to an ad posted online by an undercover detective. He communicated with an adult who had access to a child, and expressed his desire to pay to perform sex acts on the child. He said he was a gentleman and respectful and that he wanted to “enjoy this experience with her.” Detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest and he is still at large.

Adams is charged with:

· Use of computer to solicit guardian (F2)

· Use of two-way communication device to commit a felony (F3)

Photo: Polk County Sheriff’s Office





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