13th arrest made in underage sex sting in SJC

Operation End of the Road previously netted 12 arrests

Booking photo of Ronald Johnson Jr.

A 13th man was arrested in connection with a recent undercover sex sting operation in St. Johns County, deputies announced Wednesday.

The sting, which previously netted 12 arrests, targeted suspects who allegedly used the Internet to exploit minors for sex.

That 13th individual was identified as Ronald Edwin Johnson Jr., 47, of  Jacksonville. He was charged with using a computer to seduce, solicit, or lure a child; transmit info harmful to minors and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. He was arrested late last week in Duval County and released after posting $75,000 bond.

During the initial phase of the operation, Johnson allegedly solicited sex acts form a person he believed was a juvenile female.

The investigation led to his identity and an arrest warrant was obtained, deputies said.

The operation, which occurred early this month, involved undercover detectives posing as juveniles online to arrange for unknown suspects to meet with them at an undercover house in the western part of the county.

Multiple agencies participated in the operation under the auspices of the North Florida ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force. Those agencies included the FBI, FDLE, Office of the State Attorney 7th Judicial Circuit, the Sheriff’s Offices of St. Johns, Volusia, Clay, Alachua, and Nassau counties, as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of St. Augustine, Orange Park and Gainesville.

Underage sex sting nets dozen arrests

The 12 men initially arrested as part of the seven-day Operation End of the Road ranged in age from 21 to 60 years old, St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said. The sting took place from March 30 to April 6.

He said one suspect brought prescription drugs with him, apparently to calm the would-be victim. Another showed up in a military uniform and a third had a college basketball scholarship, Shoar said.

The men are facing a variety of charges from traveling to meet a minor for sex to using a computer to lure a child for sex.

“You get this cast of characters and why they keep doing this, I don't know,” Shoar said. “If we can deter just one or two people (by publicizing these arrests), I think it's vitally important.”

Shoar said the men were expecting to meet minors who ranged in age from 12 to 16 years old and included both boys and girls. Instead they were met by undercover detectives, who had been posing as juveniles online to arrange to meet the suspects at an undercover house in the western part of St. Johns County.

The men arrested, including their ages, cities of residence and charges, are:

  • Lee Mark Davis, 22, St. Augustine, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Oscar Aster Cabrera-Adames, 21, Daytona Beach, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Travon Carnell White-Thomas, 22, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Corey Richard Sinnott, 31, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Keaton Richard Cernin, 25, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, transmitting information harmful to minors, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Jeremy Lee Hughes, 41, Brunswick, Georgia, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Adam Tucker Driggers, 31, Palm Coast, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • James Willard Goodwin, 60, St. Augustine, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Matthew Bryan Caniff, 32, Gainesville, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, promoting sexual performance of a child, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription
  • Charles Arthur Thompson, 35, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • Kevin Michael Philippi, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony
  • David Lawrence Kausch III, 25, St. Augustine, using a computer to lure a child for sex, traveling to meet a minor for sex, using a two-way device to facilitate a felony

Caniff, who is facing the additional drug charge, is a pharmacy technician, deputies said. He was released after posting $58,000 bond.

According to his arrest report, Caniff  said to the undercover officer, who he thought was a 13-year-old girl: "You're not a cop, right?" The detective replied, in part: "Like 13-year-olds are cops." Caniff replied, "You could be pretending to be 13." Despite his doubts, he showed up for the meeting, and was hauled off to jail.

"It seems to me like it's still a target-rich environment. I can't understand how people still do this. You guys publicize every (sting) that's done, so it's not like they don't know," Shoar said. "But overall, if anything, I would say maybe it's been driven underground a bit more because we are out there."

White-Thomas, a sailor, was released after posting $55,000 bond, Cabrera-Adames, a student, was released after posting $30,000 bond, and Davis, a security engineer, was released after posting $150,000 bond.

Driggers was released after posting $25,000 bond.

Hughes, a driver for Uber, is being held on an $80,000 bond, deputies said. He thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl with special needs.

Sinnott ($75,000), Cernin ($110,000), Goodwin ($30,000), Thompson ($100,000), Philippi ($75,000) and Kausch ($55,000) were all being held on bonds Tuesday afternoon.

According to arrest reports, Goodwin brought orange Gatorade and chocolate ice cream to the meeting location because the “child” wanted them.

Davis wore Batman pajamas because that is what the "child" wanted. He also had a three-pack of condoms on him when he was arrested, authorities said.

“I can assure you that this isn't their first offense,” Shoar said. “The question you wind up wondering is how many of these do they get away with?”

In one of the conversations, an undercover detective said to Kausch, “I don’t want (you) to get in trouble.” Kausch replied: “That’s only if we get caught right lol.”

Shoar said that in addition to the 12 men arrested, about five more never showed for their planned meetings.

Shoar said the results of the sting should be another sign to parents to always be aware of what their children are doing online.

"If you're not proactive in your children's lives, their Internet lives, you are making a profound mistake," Shoar said. "If you think you know what they're doing on that Internet, you would be mistaken. If you've got children in those age brackets, from nowadays 8 right on up until their late teens, you should be monitoring that to see who they are talking to."

Shoar said only one of the men had previous charges involving a minor, which included a warrant out of Georgia for molestation of a minor and incest.

Shoar was joined for the announcement of the arrests by St. Augustine Police Chief Loran Lueders and Assistant Chief Barry Fox, and chief prosecutor Chris France of the State Attorney's Office.

He said it was the third such effort in St. Johns County through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which combines the efforts of multiple agencies, including the FBI; FDLE; State Attorney's Office; the Sheriff's Offices of St. Johns, Volusia, Clay, Alachua and Nassau counties; the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office; and the police departments of St. Augustine, Orange Park and Gainesville.

Shoar said stings like Operation End of the Road are very expensive and intense to put on, but the task force will continue to do them to keep children safe.