The investigation led to the arrest of suspects ranging in age from 20 to 74 and a combined 68 felony charges, including solicitation of a minor and attempted indecent liberties, Fairfax County police said Tuesday.
“Our detectives have remained vigilant and they recognized the increased threat posed by online predators in recent weeks,” Major Ed O’Carroll said in statement. “I commend their ability to adapt during this unprecedented public health pandemic and to do so in the interest of protecting our children and bringing justice to those who commit these repugnant crimes.”
The suspects — primarily from Virginia, though some live in Maryland and Washington, DC — allegedly used online platforms to strike up explicit conversations that eventually led to solicitation of sex from investigators posing as children.
Detectives then took the men into custody when they arrived at agreed-upon locations, police said.
School closures across the country and a sharp uptick in students using online instruction have “inadvertently placed them at higher risk of exploitation,” department officials said.
“Parents are urged to closely monitor their children’s online activities and use available security settings to prevent the use of age-inappropriate sites or platforms,” Fairfax County police said.