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9 men arrested on sex charges in St. Johns County sting

1 of those charged was a previously convicted sex offender

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – For the fifth time in seven years, undercover detectives in St. Johns County, working with state and federal agents and neighboring agencies, posed as children online to locate people seeking to have sex with minors.

In four days, Operation Rip Current led to nine arrests of men from Northeast Florida. One of those arrested was a previously convicted sex offender.

The undercover investigators were contacted by several men and were exposed to graphic and disturbing subject matter during contact with potential child predators, the Sheriff's Office said. Many of those subjects aggressively requested to meet in person for the purpose of having sex with children.

Those arrested and their charges:

  • Habiel Isa Quiroz Carrasco, 28, of Jacksonville, is charged with use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bonds total $60,000.
  • Curtis Lavon Duggan, 59, of Live Oak, is charged with use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bonds total $100,000.
  • Kenneth Brian Hanger, 46, of St. Augustine, is charged with using a computer to solicit a child for unlawful sexual conduct, transmission of harmful material to a minor, promote sexual performance by a child and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. His bonds total $25,000. Hanger was already on the Florida sexual offender registry for an offense in Pennsylvania two decades ago. He moved to St. Augustine two years ago. He was arrested last November after deputies saw kids getting candy on Halloween at Hanger’s house. His wife was handing out the treats, but there was no sign saying “no candy or treats at this residence," as required by county ordinance. Hanger told deputies he was unaware of the requirements, which included no contact with kids on Halloween. He pleaded no contest to violating the county ordinance, and adjudication was withheld. 
  • Gary Dale Hickey Jr., 31, of Augustine, is charged with use a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex; unlawful use of a two-way communication device; transmission of harmful material to a minor and attempting to promote a sexual performance of a child. His bonds total $65,000.
  • Nicholas Daniel Jewel, 22, of Jacksonville, is charged with use a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bonds total $15,000.
  • Richard Paul Roberts, 46, of Daytona Beach, is charged with use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bonds total $15,000.
  • Joshua Ryan Solana, 23, of St. Augustine, is charged with use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex; unlawful use of a two-way communication device and transmitting information harmful to minors. His bonds total $20,000.
  • Ronald Blaine Stafford II, 26, of St. Augustine, is charged with use of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex; unlawful use of a two-way communication device and directly promoting sexual performance by a child. His bonds total $20,000.
  • Matthew Joseph-Ryan Tatge, 22, of Palm Coast, is charged with use  of a computer to solicit, seduce or lure a child for sex; traveling to meet a minor for sex and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. His bonds totaling $45,000.

A man named Robert told News4Jax that he had no idea his neighbor, Hanger, was already a convicted sex offender. He said he'll be keeping a closer eye on his children from now on.

“I have a young daughter, a young son that lives with us. God forbid something like that would happen," the neighbor said. “I just hope that they put him in jail and keep him out of here."

At Hanger's house Wednesday afternoon, News4Jax was told "Get away from here," and "No comments."

The operation was led by St. Johns County's Internet Crimes Against Children detectives. Assisting agencies included the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the 7th Circuit's State Attorneys Office, the sheriff's offices in Putnam and Alachua counties, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and police departments of St. Augustine Beach, Orange Park and Gainesville.

Over the past seven years, St. Johns County undercover operations using the internet to locate and identify people looking to sexually exploit children have led to 75 arrests.


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