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10 arrested in Johnson County child solicitation sting

The sheriff said he's already planning a similar operation in the future.

FRANKLIN, Ind — Johnson County law enforcement has charged 10 people in a child solicitation sting called Operation Firewall.   

"We had a chance ever so briefly during the course of this week to just take a peek behind the curtain into a whole other world,”  said Johnson County prosecutor Joseph Villanueva. “It is dark and it is depraved and it is here, ladies and gentlemen, and that's what we're trying to fight."

On the nights of Dec. 8-10, investigators posed online as a 14-year-old girl. Chat room conversations led the suspects from all over central Indiana to come to a hotel room or apartment in Johnson County for an alleged intended sexual encounter with a minor.     

Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess said with children online more than ever before, parents must closely monitor their activity for their safety.  

"The bottom line is, parents, watch your kids,” said Burgess. “Know what they're doing. These people do exist in your community. They will hurt your children. They will come do bad things. This is how folks lose their children to human trafficking."

Investigators thought Operation Firewall might catch one or two people. They were stunned and sickened that 10 people over three nights drove to Johnson County, expecting to have sex with a teenage minor. 

Credit: WTHR

"These investigators have children as well,” said Damian Katt, Johnson County Sheriff’s Investigations Commander. “It was something they had to overcome, because I think they didn't recognize how dark this was going to get. It really touched home with them."

Burgess says one arrest can protect 25 children. He's already planning another sting. 

Operation Firewall arrests and charges: 

Robert Bland, Indianapolis: Child solicitation, level four felony 

John Dulin, Kirklin: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Jason Cleveland, Indianapolis: Child solicitation, level four felony; dissemination of material harmful to a minor, level 6 felony 

John Kent, Martinsville: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Russell Burke, Frankfort: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Fredy Perez-Baten, Indianapolis: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Preston Carpenter, Greenwood: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Michael Gaiski, Morristown: Child solicitation, level four felony 

Gregory Stennett, Avon: Child solicitation, level four felony; dissemination of material harmful to a minor, level six felony 

Morgan Warden, Avon: Possession of a controlled substance, class A misdemeanor 

Credit: WTHR

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