On August 21, 2018, PCSO undercover detectives conducted an operation at Saddle Creek Park and Gator Creek Reserve Park in Lakeland in response to complaints of lewd activity in public.
They arrested 75-year-old Gregory Merrill, of Kissimmee, after he solicited an undercover detective to perform a sex act. He told detectives he went to Saddle Creek Park to meet a stranger for sex. He’s now charged with two counts of soliciting another for a lewd act. He was also issued a trespass from all county parks. Merrill was booked into the Polk County Jail on $1,000 bond.
Detectives also arrested 59-year-old Jose Javier Martinez of Lakeland at Saddle Creek Park, after he exposed himself and solicited an undercover detective for sex in the restroom. Martinez also grabbed the detective’s arm against his will. He was taken into custody where he admitted being arrested there in 2014 for the same offense. He was charged with two counts of soliciting another for a lewd act (2nd offense), battery, resisting arrest and trespass. Martinez was booked into the Polk County Jail on a $3,500 bond.
“We will continue to conduct operations such as this one to get the message across to everyone that we will not tolerate this type of criminal activity at our parks.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
One additional arrest was made for possession of meth and possession of marijuana after a park-goer was observed smoking marijuana by detectives.