HOUSTON (KTRK) --A two-month-long, eight county operation put 126 suspects behind bars, all accused of exploiting children online.
"Operation Broken Heart III" involved investigators in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County and Galveston County, just to name a few.
"This operation targeted predators who were sexually exploiting children on the Internet," said task force member Sergeant Richard Hahn of the Houston Police Department.
Investigators say the suspects targeted their victims online and then went to meet them. Authorities say the predators thought they were talking to children, when in reality, they were talking to law enforcement officers. The suspects set up meetings with who they thought were children. That's when they were confronted by police.
While no children were involved in this massive operation, it's a situation that's all too real. Just this week police charged 22-year-old William Alvarado with sexual abuse of a child. Investigators say Alvarado reached out to the a 12-year-old girl online. The girl also had a twin sister. Officers say Alvarado sexually assaulted both girls.
"One of the twins met this guy online and they started chatting in September. They talked for nearly a month before he was able to arrange a first meeting at their home when they met through the bedroom window," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
Sources say there are several apps that predators use to target children including: Craigslist, Grinder and Meet24.
The DA just charged Alvarado this week. There is a warrant out for his arrest. He is still at-large.
The girls' mother says she just hopes other parents can learn from this situation so it doesn't happen to anyone else. She says parents need to pay attention to who their teens are talking to online.
Anderson agrees, saying parents must get involved.
"Keep up on the latest apps, particularly the chat apps which allow them to engage in these conversations. You've got to get all up in children's business and know what they are doing online," said Anderson.
Among the 126 arrested include former Fort Bend County Precinct One Reserve Deputy Brad Bostick. He's charged with possessing child pornography.
In addition, John Davila, a volunteer firefighter, also faces charges as part of the operation.