Sheriff spends two-weeks to make 9 arrests in Operation Downpour

The St Johns County Sheriff’s Office reported to Historic City News Wednesday evening that after spending the past two weeks impersonating children using text messaging, e-mail, and Internet social media pages, they managed to get nine men, aged 18-34 years-old, to show up at a prearranged trap-house where each of them was arrested.

  • The local sheriff got help, and money, courtesy of a federal grant program operated by a joint task force within three divisions of United States Department of Justice; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States Attorney’s Office.
  • In addition to the “Top 4” heavy-hitters in the law enforcement field, using funding from this grant supported by local taxes, the sheriff in St Johns County did what he does best; he created additional bureaucracy in the form of a designated “Internet Crimes Against Children” task force — which is part of the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, that already existed.
  • He also enlisted the assistance of the sheriffs in Jacksonville, Volusia and Putnam counties, as well as the State Attorney for the 7th Judicial Circuit, and members of the St Augustine Beach and Orange Park Police Departments.

All that money and those resources were spent to achieve the arrest of nine men during “Operation Downpour”. This was only one of many operations over the past several years that a St Johns County undercover operation utilized the Internet to locate and identify persons who might have used it to sexually exploit children — although no real children were sexually exploited.

“The operation involved undercover detectives posing as children online to arrange for unknown suspects to meet with them at an undercover location that was in St. Johns County,” the local sheriff stated in a press release today.

David B Shoar

Over the past two-weeks, the sheriff says that those arrested “made plans and traveled” to the undisclosed location allegedly with the intent to exploit children sexually.  However, since no real children engaged in making overtures, flirting, or were otherwise placed at risk, some of those arrested were shocked that they were being taken into custody by arrest teams immediately when they showed up.

Of the nine men, three were from Duval County, one each from St Johns, Alachua, Clay and Flagler County, and one each from McCord Washington, and South Gate California.  Each of the nine men are now facing felony charges.


Those arrested, their charges and bonds are:

Clarence Bernard Thomas, 28, Jacksonville

1.         Attempted lewd and lascivious behavior

2.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

3.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

4.         Solicit a child for sex

Bonds totaled $12,500

Orion Kade Healy, 19, 20 Undermount Path East, Palm Coast

1.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

2.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

3.         Solicit a child for sex

4.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

5.         Tampering with evidence

Bonds totaled $45,000

Michael Edward Beck II, 21, 11041 Great Western Lane West, Jacksonville

1.         Solicit a child for sex

2.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

3.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

4.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

5.         Transmission of harmful material to minor

6.         Possession of marijuana

Bonds Totaled $33,000

Raymond Edward Wygant, 25, 7263B Sutherland Drive, McChord, Washington

1.         Solicit a child for sex

2.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

3.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

4.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

Bonds Totaling $32,500

Ethan Nathaniel Persson, 18, 46 Tumbled Stone Way, St. Augustine

1.         Solicit a child for sex

2.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

3.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

4.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

Bonds Totaling $35,000

Ernie Mendoza Aleman, 31, 3070 Liberty Blvd, South Gate, California

1.         Solicit a child for sex

2.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

3.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

4.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

Bonds Totaling $50,000

Matthew Bernard Browne, 28, 4455 SW 34th Street, Gainesville

1.         Traveling to meet a minor for sex

2.         Solicit a child for sex

3.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

4.         Unlawful use of a two-way communication device

Bonds Totaling $35,000

Johnny Antonio Chacon-Montiel, 34, 7220 Melvin Road, Jacksonville

1.         Travel to meet a minor for sex

2.         Unlawful use of a two-way communications device

3.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

4.         Use a computer to solicit a child for sex

No Bond

Joshua Ryan Blankenship, 28, 5248 Sweat Road, Green Cove Springs

1.         Attempted lewd and lascivious battery

2.         Unlawful use of a two-way communications device

3.         Travel to meet a minor for sex

4.         Use a computer to solicit a child for sex

5.         Possession of a controlled substance w/o prescription

6.         Possession of methamphetamine

No Bond