MCSO prostitution sting. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
More than 100 arrests were made by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies during a two-week long undercover drug and prostitution sting.
Day after day, men lined up outside local hotel rooms waiting for their chance to have sex with underage girls, who they believed to be about 16 years old, MCSO said.
"These are husbands and fathers, many of whom came on their lunch hour, or came in their company vans," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"One man told the officers he wanted to have sex with two girls and dropped by to do that on his way to his own daughter's 16th birthday party," Arpaio said.
The crackdown began on Dec. 2.
Two female Tempe police detectives posed as underage teen girls when talking on the telephone with suspects who responded to an online ad placed on Back Page.
Within only minutes of placing the ads, dozens of calls immediately came in, Arpaio said.
Each caller was told by the female detectives posing as prostitutes that they were underage and willing to perform various sexual acts.
The men came to the agreed location, the female detectives posing as underage prostitutes reiterated their ages as 16, a verbal contract for sex was stated, money was displayed and the arrests then followed, the sheriff said.
"Some of those we arrested were so anxious to engage in sex with a minor that detectives literally witnessed them lining up in the parking lot," Arpaio said.
The spokesman said there were 30 arrests for soliciting a minor for prostitution and 21 drug arrests during "Operation Vice Grip" that netted 111 arrests overall.
Deputies also seized 32 pounds of methamphetamine, 2 kilos of cocaine and 487 pounds of marijuana.
Arpaio said one of those arrested was a high school chemistry teacher who taught at Betty H. Fairfax High School in Laveen. Jerry Marfe, 54, was arrested Dec. 6 and resigned his teaching position Dec. 11.
The Phoenix Union High School District issued statement said it was notified of Marfe's arrest Dec. 7 and immediately placed him on emergency leave. The district said he resigned four days later.
Marfe was a teacher in the district for 27 years, teaching at Alhambra, Cesar Chavez and Betty H. Fairfax high schools, according to the district's statement.
The district said staff, student and parents were notified last week of an arrest and resignation at the school without elaborating because of the MCSO's ongoing investigation.
The district was "shocked by the news of (Marfe's) arrest," the statement concluded.
A level-two sex offender currently on probation, Raymond John Cordero was arrested as well as another man, John David Wythe, 48, who had served 10 years in prison for child molestation, the sheriff's office said.
Solicitation of a minor for purposes of prostitution is a class two felony that carries a penalty of a minimum of seven years in prison if convicted.
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