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HCSO Arrests 32 in Undercover Chat Operation

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 23-045



The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office conducted an undercover operation that led to the arrest of 32 men who aimed to victimize minors.

In January and March 2023, detectives encountered several criminals who attempted to prey upon minors through online advertisements and chats. HCSO detectives worked covertly, entering online chats and, in two cases, placing a fictitious ad posing as a father soliciting a child online.

"Unfortunately, there are devious people out there who seek to take advantage of the vulnerable; but as Sheriff, I can assure you, teamHCSO and I are committed to keeping our community, especially our children, safe," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Those who wish to victimize others in such a shameless manner are not welcome in Hillsborough County. They will not get away with such despicable crimes."

Among those arrested was a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant. Jacob Dwayne Reid, 31, was arrested after he made contact with who he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Detectives arrested Reid at a Tampa hotel, where he was staying while on temporary duty at MacDill Air Force Base.

"There is no greater disappointment than the betrayal of a man who was sworn to protect our nation," said Sheriff Chronister. "It doesn't matter who you are or what title you hold; no one is above the law. If you enter Hillsborough County and intend to take advantage of our children, you will be arrested."

Detectives also encountered Muntasir Shafiq, 36, a Lutz resident who was arrested in 2021 on multiple charges, including 30 counts of Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor. This time, he faces numerous charges, including the Transmission of Harmful Material to a Minor and Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device.

"This wasn't a mistake, and this wasn't a lapse of judgment," said Sheriff Chronister. "This man has repeatedly tried to engage in sexual activity with children. His intentions are equally as vile and depraved as his messages to our detectives."

Two suspects were arrested for Human Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Activity for their role in responding to the fictitious advertisement in which a father was selling sex with their "child."

Bobby Barnes, 58, traveled from New Port Richey to Apollo Beach to meet a minor. Instead, he negotiated with the undercover detective and paid for sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old. Barnes was taken into custody without incident.

Michael Ardouin, 30, responded to a similar ad. He negotiated with the undercover detective and paid for sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old. Ardouin was taken into custody and is currently pending deportation to Haiti.

"The fact that these men were hoping to have sex with an innocent minor is beyond sickening," said Sheriff Chronister. "I am so thankful it was our brave detectives on the other end of these chats and ads, ready to put an end to their repulsive acts."

While the "victims" of Human Trafficking in these investigations were fictitious, teamHCSO is dedicated to investigating these crimes and helping those who might be impacted. If you suspect you or someone you know are a victim of Human Trafficking, please contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office immediately.

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