BARTOW, Fla. – Twenty-two men were arrested and charged with soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet during a four-day undercover operation, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said Monday.
The men included a volunteer youth hockey coach, an airport security screener and a volunteer firefighter. They ranged in age from early 20s to a 60-year-old man, a registered sex offender in Ohio.
Mitchell Nixon, coordinator for North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), an organization involved in the sting, told FOXNews.com these were 22 individual cases, and this was the third operation the Polk County Sheriff's Department had undergone in 2 years.
He said the one similarity between all 22 of those arrested had was that they were acting as predators.
"They all share one common thing...they're interested in victimizing," he told FOXNews.com.
Investigators used Internet chat rooms and instant messaging to direct the men individually to a suburban home west of Orlando, where they believed they were meeting a teenage girl to have sex, the sheriff's office said in a news release.
Nixon said people generally have misconceptions about how law enforcement takes on these operations.
"People watch Dateline and think it's really easy," he said. "Its a very expensive, time consuming operation."
He said ICAC provides training for investigators involved in the sting operations.
"We give them the tools to be able to do this," he said. "It's one thing to make an arrest. You need to make sure you do it properly and get a conviction out of it."
The sting began Thursday. Each of the 22 men arrested face multiple charges.
"It's disappointing to know that we have arrested child predators who come from public service industries," Sheriff Grad Judd said in a statement. "This reconfirms our dedication to our number one cause, and that's keeping children safe."
Nixon said it was rewarding for ICAC to have been able to take part in the successful operation.
"It feels great," he told FOXNews.com. "It's 22 guys that aren’t going to be out there preying on kids."
In April, the sheriff's office arrested 29 men during a similar undercover sting.
FOX News' Audrey Bright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.