CLEVELAND (WJW) — A four-day undercover operation targeting online child predators led to the arrests of 14 people, including a local elementary school teacher and a former patrol officer at a local university.
“Operation Spider Web,” headed by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, ran from Thursday, Oct. 26, to Sunday, Oct. 29, according to a Friday news release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.
Authorities have identified 14 suspects ages 22 to 71, nearly all of whom are from Northeast Ohio, who they say engaged in “sexually explicit online conversations with undercover officers posing as children” on popular social media platforms, reads the release.
He was arrested in Mayfield Heights, according to prosecutors.
“We are still in the process of gathering information related to specific details of the situation,” reads a Friday statement from a district spokesperson. “However, at this point in time, the district has not received any information indicating that any Mentor student was involved in the circumstances leading to the arrest.”
Upon learning of Tatko’s arrest, the district placed him on administrative leave and ordered him not to have contact with anyone in the district, pending the results of an internal investigation.
“We are taking the allegations very seriously and we will fully cooperate with law enforcement officials working on this case,” the statement continues. “Keeping our students safe is our No. 1 priority and we will do everything we can to protect them.”
The suspects traveled to an arranged location in Cuyahoga County, planning to have sex, and were arrested by authorities “without incident,” reads the release. Some were found with condoms, knives, firearms and petroleum jelly, which were confiscated as evidence, according to the release.
Among the others arrested were:
- Randy Wouters, 33, of Cleveland
- Stephen Simpson, 44, of Warren
- Lucas Black, 24, of Parma
- Timothy Opincar, 54, of Fairview Park
- Alan Radomski, 39, of Richfield
- Gonzalo Villafan, 24, of Cleveland
- Robert Biddle, 22, of Cuyahoga Falls
- Miller Singh, 57, of Cleveland
- Shiloh Teiji-Saalim-Moore, 28, of Warrensville Heights
- Neil Dremer, 53, of Ottawa, who was arrested by Perrysburg police and will be prosecuted in Wood County
- Ted Williams, 56, of Cleveland
- Jed Martus, 28, of Akron
The charges against the defendants range from third- to fifth-degree felonies and include:
- Compelling prostitution
- Attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor
- Disseminating matter harmful to juveniles
- Possessing criminal tools
“Operation Spider Web” was coordinated by Cuyahoga prosecutors with assistance from police departments in Cleveland, Newburgh Heights, Austintown, Streetsboro, Perrysburg, Solon, Independence and Kelly’s Island, sheriff’s offices in Ottawa and Portage counties, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Cleveland FBI and the U.S. Secret Service.
It was the task force’s fifth such operation since 2018, bringing the task force’s arrest total to 122 suspects.