In an undercover operation where Clay County detectives posed as kids on the Internet, it took only five days for 19 men to make advances looking for sex and be arrested, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
In an operation they called "Don't Play in Clay," detectives posted messages on Craigslist.com and Internet chat sites. Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said the posts were not asking for sex and made it clear the postings were from children.
All 19 men were charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex.
One of the men arrested was Orange Park resident Jack Mealey, 47, who claimed to be a former law enforcement officer in Georgia. The arrest report says he was involved in an online conversation with a detective posing as a 14-year-old boy.
The report says Mealey sent a naked picture of himself and agreed to meet the boy at the house. When Mealey showed up, he was met by the Sheriff's Office SWAT team.
"There is so much of this happening out there every day," Beseler said. "We only scratched the surface of the number of times these events occurred."
Not all the arrests were simple. Police said 41-year-old Christopher Adams thought he was meeting a 13-year-old girl for sex. Instead, when he saw the deputies, he tried to get away.
"When that door opens and they see a law enforcement officer standing where they thought a small girl was going to be and all the sudden they are being taken into custody, it's a shock to the system and most of them don't voluntarily comply," Beseler said.