Officers from multiple agencies worked together to identify the men, who were chatting online with individuals they believed to be teens between the ages of 13 and 15.
"These suspects, mostly using apps and chat rooms, looked to engage in sexual activity with children," said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
MUG SHOTS OF THOSE ARRESTED
The men arrested ultimately drove to an apartment in northwest Houston, reportedly to meet with the supposed child for sex. The apartment was outfitted with surveillance cameras, and was surrounded by undercover officers and deputies.
"Some of the defendants arrived at the undercover location with alcohol and condoms. One showed up with a gun, another with Ecstasy," Anderson said. "These suspects are ready, willing and able to hurt a child, without giving it a second thought."
Authorities say parents need to be aware of what their children are doing online, and are asked to remind their children that the Internet can harbor dangerous individuals.
"The internet is not safe," said Anderson. "Know what your children are doing online."
The 12 suspects were among the nearly thousand people who communicated online with the undercover officers posing as minors on various social media sites via the Internet and mobile applications. The suspects range from a homeless man to a banker to lab technicians. The men are facing a second degree felony that carries a potential punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison.
This should serve as a wake-up call for parents to make sure they're monitoring their children's online activity. You many know some of the sites and apps they use, but check out the list put together by Common Sense Media of the 15 apps kids go to after Facebook.