Sheriff: Former MLB player Austin Maddox, 26 others arrested in Jacksonville child predator sting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters announced on Monday arrests resulting from “Operation Valiant Knights,” where 27 men solicited sex over the internet from who they believed were children.

The operation took place from April 24-28 and the ages of those arrested ranged from 19 to 69. Among those arrested were former MLB player Austin Maddox, who is from Jacksonville and played for the Florida Gators in college and the Boston Red Sox in the MLB.


When asked for comment on Maddox’s arrest, a Red Sox spokesperson told Action News Jax sister station Boston 25, “I don’t have anything for you on this.”

JSO released video showing Maddox and others arrested being taken into custody. Maddox was tackled to the ground by law enforcement and a K-9 officer had to get involved:

Waters said JSO worked with the following agencies in the investigation:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Services
  • INTERCEPT Task Force
  • Clay County Sheriff’s Office
  • St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office
  • Bay County Sheriff’s Office
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • U.S. Marshal’s Service
  • State Attorney’s Office
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office

Waters said the objective of the operation was to “identify and arrest suspects who solicit children to engage in sexual acts using electronic devices.”

Undercover detectives posing as children chatted with these adults, “who committed to engaging in sex acts with purported minors,” Waters said.

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Waters said 24 of the arrests happened during the operation when the men who traveled to meet minors were arrested.

Three of the arrests happened “after follow-up investigations were conducted,” Waters said.

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Along with the arrest of Maddox, Waters also mentioned the following arrests from the operation:

Action News Jax is continuing to go through the arrest reports and will have the latest updates on FOX30 Action News Jax at 4.

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