Howard County Police charged two men this week with soliciting prostitutes online, and warned would-be johns that they are watching closely.
Francis Gilbert Gomes, 57, of Laurel and Deangelo Deahmari Edwards, 21, of Waldorf were charged with solicitation of prostitution on Wednesday after undercover detectives observed them using the website Backpage.com.
"Hear our warning: If you are using Backpage.com for sex services, Howard County police officers are there with you," Howard County Police Chief Gary Gardner said in a statement. "Please know that the use of this site in Howard County now comes with tremendous risk."
On Wednesday, Howard police posted escort ads featuring undercover female officers, and immediately began getting phone calls and text messages soliciting sex, police said. Over the course of four hours, the undercover officers fielded 21 phone calls and 38 text messages.
Wednesday's undercover operation was the first in a series, police said.