GULF SHORES, AL (AP) -- Police began rounding up 23 men in Alabama and three other states who have been charged in an undercover Internet probe targeting child-sex predators.
Gulf Shores Police Chief Arthur Bourne said a Baldwin County grand jury indicted each suspect on a single count of soliciting a child for sexual purposes by computer.
One was arrested at his job in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night while others arrested live in Baldwin, Mobile, Elmore, Chilton and Wilcox counties. Three others live in the Florida Panhandle, Louisiana and Georgia.
Under Alabama law, the charge is a Class B felony, which carries a possible sentence of two to 20 years. The indictments allege the men used computers to set up sexual contacts with teens, ages 13 to 14. But Bourne said those teens turned out be undercover police officers in a sting operation.
"We would go into a chat room, like an Alabama chat room, and within four or five minutes they would send us an instant message and contact us," Gulf Shores police lead investigator Tommy Green said Wednesday.
About 150 people contacted the undercover officers in the last two months. Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb said some of the suspects sent nude photos of themselves or other pornographic material to the person they thought was a teen.
The indictments stated that suspects attempted to solicit sex from people who they thought were "13-year-old Maggie," "14-year-old Jessica" and "14-year-old Mark."
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