Panama City - Local police have arrested a dozen men and expect to arrest a dozen more after staging an Internet sex sting operation. The Bay County Sheriff's Office along with 13 other agencies participated in the sting, which they called Operation Riptide.
Most of the men came from the southeast region. A couple lived right here in Panama City. The multi-jurisdictional Operation Riptide kicked-off on June 13th, as part of cyber safety month. The Bay County Sheriff's Office teamed up with 13-other agencies, including the u-s marshal's service to conduct the operation. Undercover agents posed as underage kids and posted ads online looking for sex. Suspects would show up to a panama city home to meet to supposed child. But when they arrived they found a SWAT team. Some brought alcohol, condoms and lubricant, making them obvious suspects. One Alabama man, with a criminal history of kidnapping, showed up with handcuffs and rope in his car.
"There's a lot of perverted people out there. There's a lot of things that were happening online that these folks were dealing with photos. We've learned a lot of things about things we've never heard of before," Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said.
And the one week investigation resulted in 12 arrests, and they expect to make a dozen more. Mckeithen says it's important to to aware of these type of Internet crimes.
"This is a crime that happens so often that we don't even know about. There's things that our kids do when we're not home or things that happen and these are exactly the reasons that we have kids disappear , we have kids that go missing, adults that go missing," McKeithen said.
The suspects varied in age from 19 to 77 years old. The 77 year old is a retired lieutenant colonel from the United States Air Force.