LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — Seven suspects have been arrested in an undercover investigation in Lorain County that is being called “Operation Watchdog.”
The operation, which ran from July 19-21, “identified multiple individuals interested in engaging in sexual activity with whom they believed to be minor children."
Lorain County Prosecutor J.D. Tomlinson says those arrested range in age from 24-53 years old. Each is accused of engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with undercover officers posing as children.
“Following these interactions, the individuals traveled to pre-arranged locations to engage in sexual activity with purported children,” according to a press release from the Elyria Police Department. “Upon arriving, they were arrested by law enforcement officers and transported to the Elyria Police Department and later to the Lorain County Jail.”
Those arrested include:
- Mark Schnur, 53, of Elyria
- Gary Lovelace, 33, of Avon Lake
- Darrin Dudgeon, 36, of Avon Lake
- Wade Ellis Hering, 24, of Elyria
- David Av. Bring, 42, of Wellington
- Devon Frances, 27, of Amherst
- Manuel Genao Vargas, 25, of Cleveland
Initial charges of attempt to commit an offense of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and importuning have been filed. Each case will be presented to the Lorain County Grand Jury with additional charges possible.
“The Elyria Police Department and the Lorain County Prosecutor believes the success of this operation will send a message to offenders that you will be found, you will be arrested and you will be prosecuted,” according to the press release from Elyria police.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the operation, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Cleveland, the U.S. Secret Service and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on July 18, 2022.