BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Three men are accused of driving to a Bay County hotel to have sex with children.
Local, state and federal authorities busted them during a sex sting operation this weekend and allowed News 13 cameras to go along for "exclusive" coverage.
Larry Dobbs, 49, of Cartersville, Georgia allegedly drove to the hotel Friday night to meet who he believed was a teenaged boy. He was met instead by Panama City Beach Lt. J.R. Talamantez and Bay County Sheriff's Lt. Jeremy Mathis.
"If a 14 year old would have walked over to your truck, you would have given him oral sex. That's your statement," Mathis told Dobbs during an interview recording.
"It was simply because I thought he was a curious young man like I had been," Dobbs responded.
During the three-day sex sting, undercover officers posed as teens on the internet and engaged in conversations with men.
In three cases, the men not only made sexual comments or sent explicit pictures they followed through with plans to meet the minor.
"It's our job to find these individuals before they find our kids," Talamantez said. "They are very good at seeking out these kids and telling them all the right things at all the right times to make them do things they typically wouldn't do under a normal circumstance."
Law enforcement officials said there isn't a common profile for predators.
In this case, Dobbs is 49 years old and used the smart phone application Grindr.
John Churchill, 41, of Panama City allegedly communicated through email while the third man Michael Helbling of Panama City is only 21 and used social media, according to officers.
"We do these operations to try and curb this, but parents have got to understand that there is not enough law enforcement in the world to take everyone of these guys offline," Mathis said.
Law enforcement also arrested eight women for prostitution during the operation. While it's more common to see stings targeting men, Mathis said they were working to determine if any of the women are possible human trafficking victims.
One man William Culbreth, 32, of Panama City, was arrested on a charge of Procure for Prostitution.
The FBI and Homeland Security joined the Bay County Sheriff's Office and Panama City and Panama City Beach Police Departments in the operation.
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