Pensacola, Fla. (WALA) - Over the past few weeks, officers from numerous agencies worked together on Operation Blue Shepherd. The sting focused on finding men who were luring children for sex on the internet. Police nabbed 25 men during the sting.
Police said the men came from all walks of life, including one with a high military honor.
Pensacola Police had cameras hidden in the garden rolling the whole time. A man pulled up and casually walked toward the front door. Officers said he was waiting to have a good time with a child. However, he was instead tackled by three grown men.
"We did not have a 12 to 14 year old child, male or female, at the house. The only people that were there were police officers waiting to make the arrest," Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons said.
It was a scene that played out time and time again. Police said the men would walk to the front door unafraid and ring the doorbell, only to be tackled by police officers and dragged inside to be interrogated.
Over the course of a few days, officers responded to online ads and also used social networking sites and e-commerce sites to find men looking for sexual encounters with young girls and boys.
A total of 25 offenders were arrested. Police said that included 26-year-old Jason Bingham.
He's an Iraq war veteran who was injured by a roadside bomb. He received the Purple Heart in 2007.
FOX10 News stopped by his parent's home, but the family was not willing to speak on camera.
An officer said most of the suspects admitted they were coming inside for sex. One said he was actually coming to chastise the parents. Another said he was coming to play Dungeons and Dragons.
"The operation was very successful. That's bittersweet though. It's successful in that we got 25 people off the street, but I'm also a little bit disappointed there were 25 people willing to do this type of act," Simmons said.
An official in the sting said pedophiles gradually work to earn the trust of the children, and this operation proves how vitally important it is for parents to monitor who their young children communicate with.
Pensacola police said the men could face up to 15 years in prison if they're convicted.
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