The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office recently completed an undercover operation that resulted in the arrest of 11 men for exhibiting or soliciting lewd acts in public parks.
Dubbed “Operation Park Cleanup,” the arrests were made in two Hillsborough County parks: Sun City Heritage Park, located at 3030 S U.S. Highway 41 in Ruskin, and the Sydney Dover Conservation Park, located at 536 N Dover Road in Dover
. The parks are known to deputies as meeting points where men meet for sex.
The men arrested, who ranged in age from 37 to 76, believed undercover detectives were there to engage in sexual acts with them. In some incidents, those arrested would wait in their parked cars, follow and approach an undercover detective, and then solicit sex from them. Others would wait for undercover detectives on the trails, in broad daylight, before engaging in conversation and later either exhibiting or soliciting lewd acts.
One of the arrestees, Eric Spooner, 43, had recently been released from federal prison and is currently on federal probation for Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances. He was sentenced in 2012. In another incident, Elmer Pratt III, 59, was arrested after exposing his genitals to an undercover detective. All 11 men were arrested within the confines of the two parks.
“The vile acts these men committed were done in the same public places our children go to for outdoor recreation,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “I want to commend the work of our undercover detectives during ‘Operation Park Cleanup’ to get these men off of our Hillsborough County streets. Parks are meant for all us to enjoy, and these men made it their personal playground for deviant activity and that will not be tolerated on my watch.”
All of those arrested were charged with Entering/Remaining in Place for Prostitution, Lewdness, or Assignation.