Three UF students were among more than a dozen men arrested earlier this month for attempting to solicit sex with minors in a five-day undercover operation, officials said Tuesday.
Fifteen Florida men, including the students, were arrested during the sting, dubbed Operation Resilient, which was carried out by 46 law enforcement agents from seven agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Gainesville Police, said GPD spokesperson Officer Ben Tobias.
During the operation, which ran from March 15 to March 20, undercover officers posed as teenagers between the ages of 13 and 14, or as guardians of the children, and met with the men on an unknown social networking site, according to arrest reports.
The men — seven of whom live in Gainesville — all traveled within the state’s borders with the intent of meeting the teenagers for sexual acts, according to the reports.
Police arrested three UF students: Hongyan Huang, 22, Siddhartha Jain, 27, and Quinton Marcus Reddick, 22.
Authorities arrested Reddick at a Kangaroo Express gas station on Southwest 34th Street on March 17 and Huang on March 19 at a Winn-Dixie supermarket, located at 2002 SW 34th St., after they reportedly contacted officers who were posing as 14-year-old boys. Reddick is a computer science junior in Innovation Academy and Huang is a master’s student studying information systems and operations management in the Warrington College of Business Administration, said UF spokesperson John Hines. Reddick traveled nearly three miles to meet with who he thought was a young boy after exchanging texts, according to an arrest report.
After his arrest, Reddick told police he wasn’t going to have sex with the boy, and he only wanted to talk to him, according to the report.
At the same Southwest 34th Street Kangaroo gas station, police arrested Jain on March 16 after he reportedly told an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl he wanted to engage in oral sex, according to an arrest report. Jain is also a UF master’s student studying information systems and operations management at Warrington, Hines said.
Police arrested Huang after he told an undercover officer online who was posing as a 14-year-old boy that he wanted to perform oral sex on him, according to an arrest report.
Hines said the three student suspects have trespass warnings against them on campus.
The other men arrested are as follows: German Daniel Varela, 36; Zachery Reid Page, 22; Darren Gene Lunbery, 47; Jack Denby Bergstresser Jr., 59; Edwin Cantero Hernandez, 56; Ray Steven Wood, 43; Cristian Omar Torres-Vega, 22; Joshua Tyler Gillen, 25; Jackie Lamar Bush II, 24; Doe Doe, 39; Scott Terry Kravatz, 38; and Toddrick Lavonne Speights, 20.
All of the men were arrested on charges of soliciting a child to commit a sexual act, traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual contact and unlawful use of a phone, according to the reports. Lunbery was also charged with resisting an officer after he pulled away as officers tried to arrest him, according to the report. In the struggle, he pulled the trigger of an officer’s taser, which was attached to the officer’s vest.
Lunbery, Reddick, Bergstresser, Hernandez, Wood, Gillen, Huang, Bush, Kravatz and Speights remain in Alachua County Jail in lieu of bonds ranging from $45,000 to $450,000.
Varela, Jain, Page and Torres-Vega were released from jail on bonds ranging from $45,000 to $90,000.
Contact Meryl Kornfield at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter at @MerylKornfield