Updated at 5:08 p.m. on April 8 to include more information.
Collin County authorities attracted community recognition this week following a string of arrests and a suspect’s guilty plea for sexual crimes against children.
The Collin County Sheriff’s Office published a press release Wednesday documenting the arrests of 13 suspects for online solicitation of sex with minors and possession of child pornography. The suspects were arrested following the Sheriff’s Office’s conducting of Operation Hercules, an undercover operation that occurred from March 2-4.
Arrested suspects include 42-year-old Matthew Calli of Frisco, 29-year-old Colin Womack of Princeton, 44-year-old Chris Wess of Roanoke, 33-year-old Blake Cuccaro of Little Elm, 53-year-old Chris Le of Fort Worth, 37-year-old Kevin Sterling of Sherman, 51-year-old Antwan Jackson of Plano, 25-year-old Calvin Ladlie of Grand Prairie, 33-year-old Marcus Griffin of McKinney, 33-year-old Joel Purrington of Irving, 25-year-old Ever Gonzalez of Forney and 25-year-old Alexis Corado-Asencio of Frisco.
Another suspect in the string of arrests, 48-year-old Joseph St. John, is reportedly from Cafeektowaga, NY.
Investigators seized electronic devices from the suspects and submitted them to the Sheriff’s Office’s Child Exploitation Unit for evidence.
“I want to thank the Operation Hercules participants for their hard work and dedication in apprehending this group of sexual predators,” said Sheriff Jim Skinner in the release. “These subjects are sophisticated in their use of technology and online forums, which they utilize to target and communicate with our youth. Parents should talk to their children about their devices, how they use them, who they are talking to, and what they see online. Check regularly. Give children an opportunity to tell you if they feel something may be wrong. Finally, I want criminals to know that in Collin County, we won’t tolerate those who look to exploit our children.”
City police departments across Collin County, including those for Plano and McKinney, assisted with the operation.
The Plano Police Department was further recognized in a Wednesday statement from the Department of Justice’s Eastern District of Texas, which sentenced 58-year-old Christopher Sheffer of Media, Pennsylvania to 240 months in federal prison on counts of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. Authorities say Sheffer flew from Pennsylvania to Texas on July 10, 2020 to engage in arranged sexual acts with a minor.
A July 15 indictment said Sheffer “knowingly attempt[ed] to persuade, induce, entice, and coerce, [sic] any individual who had not attained the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity” as early as September 2019.
While authorities say the July 10 offense took place in Grayson County, both the Department of Justice and the Plano Police Department confirmed that some detectives of the latter agency are part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking task force and assisted with the Project Safe Childhood operation that led to Sheffer’s arrest.