Police arrest seven in child sex sting, decry early reporting of arrests
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.
The Gainesville Police Department has arrested seven men on charges related to soliciting sex from minors in a sting operation that began June 18 and is ongoing.
The sting, called Operation Pegasus, involved officers placing advertisements on various websites or responding to ads. Police, posing as minors or as guardians, then would have conversations with the men, some of which led to arrangements to meet.
All of the seven arrested were charged with soliciting a child to commit an illegal sexual act, traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual conduct and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.
The Gainesville residents charged were Patrick Herbert Stenstrom, 49, of 3515 SW 39th Blvd, Apt. 32E; Cameron Scott Poole, 22, of 3622 NW 42nd Terrace; Zachary Germain Jordal, 23, of 2701 NW 23rd Blvd., Apt. T167; and Robert Guy Burnham, 56, of 1000 SW 59th Terrace.
Also arrested were David Michael Arvelo, 29, of Melbourne; Kevin Petutsky, 26, of Citra; and Adolfo Pena, 29, of Jacksonville.
GPD Officer Ben Tobias, the agency’s spokesman, said he believes more men would have been arrested had The Gainesville Sun not run a story Saturday on its website about the first two arrests in the operation — those of Jordal and Pena.
Tobias had said earlier in an email Saturday relating to other cases that any publicity about the operation “will likely prevent any further arrests.”
Tobias said Tuesday that one person with whom detectives were making arrangements to meet sent a text message to one of the arrested men noting the sting. Tobias said police never heard from him again.
“Our chats got strangely quiet the minute the article posted and thereafter,” Tobias said.
Tobias added that the operation still is ongoing and that more arrests might be coming.
Sun Executive Editor Doug Ray said GPD did not give The Sun advance notice of the operation. He added that arrest information is automatically posted to The Sun’s mugshots website when suspects are booked into the Alachua County jail.
“Clearly this was an operation that took weeks to plan and conduct. If the Gainesville Police Department wanted us to consider delaying a story on it, as we’ve done in the past, it would have been good to talk with someone at GPD about this in advance,” Ray said. “A note in an email delivered over the weekend, after arrest information already posted automatically to our website, isn’t what I would expect. I think that lack of communication contributed to this not working as smoothly as any of us would have liked.”
Operation Pegasus is the latest computer-based child sex sting run by local law enforcement agencies.
In February 2012, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and GPD jointly conducted Operation Tail Feather, netting 21 initial arrests. The Sun did not report the arrests before they were announced by the Sheriff’s Office. Three others were arrested the following August as part of the same operation.
In July 2012, the multi-agency Operation Tailspin netted seven arrests, one of which came after authorities had announced the arrest of six suspects. The Sun did not report the information until the arrests were announced by the Sheriff’s Office.
In January, two men were arrested in the weeklong Operation Nightlight. The Sun reported the arrest of one before it was announced by the Sheriff’s Office.
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