Jacksonville, FL - It was called "Operation Be Mine."
A child sex sting spearheaded by the Putnam County Sheriff's Office nabs 14 suspects.
We're told these suspects are accused of preying on children online and either traveled with the intent to have sex with a minor or solicited a minor over the internet for sexual purposes.
Beginning in early February, Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach says their undercover team posed as minors between the ages of 11 and 14 as they chatted with adults on social media and other websites.
Among the arrests includes Brandon Riggs, 26, a now-former Florida Department of Corrections Juvenile Detention Officer and a member of the Army Florida National Guard. He allegedly traveled from Trenton, Florida to meet up with who he thought was a minor.
Gary Simo, 45, was another suspect also caught up in this operation, despite being a current prison inmate serving a life sentence at the South Bay Correctional Facility. Investigators say he sent pornography to a minor from a cell phone that was somehow smuggled into the prison.
Two of the suspects were said to be from Jacksonville-- Michael Glenn, 35, and Richard Dennison, 46. The rest were from all over Florida, including Orlando, Gainesville, Summerville, Hollister, Madison, South Daytona, Dunnellion. One suspect is said to have traveled from Homerville, Georgia.
Gary Simo is a current inmate serving a life sentence. Investigators said the 45-year-old sent pornography to a minor from a cell phone smuggled into prison. ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/QUyeqxpyem— Christy Turner (@ChristyANJax) March 7, 2018
"I think the takeaway from this, is that we all need to go home and remind ourselves as parents to always ensure that our children are being safe whenever they're on the internet. And as parents, it's our obligation to ensure that we know what activities they're participating in, that we constantly monitor their activities online, that we know their account username and passwords. It's time to have an honest and candid conversation with each of our children about not disclosing who they are on the internet, sharing personal information, dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses, or any other means of identifying themselves," says Sheriff DeLoach.
Despite the arrests, Sheriff DeLoach says he doesn't believe they've even scratched the surface against internet crimes committed against children.
The Palatka Police Department, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Orange Park Police Department, the Tallahassee Police Department, the Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the State Attorney's Office- 7th Judicial Circuit assisted in the operation.