A South Carolina sheriff's department says it caught one of its own deputies last week in a child sex sting that netted over a dozen other people.

The State reports Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced the arrest of Deputy Derek Vandenham on Tuesday.

Twelve other law enforcement agencies assisted in "Operation Relentless Guardian," during which deputies pretended to be 13- to 15-year-old girls and chatted with men online.

When investigators found out the man on the other side of the conversation was a policeman from their own department, Lott was informed and let the undercover work continue.


Investigators changed the location where Vandenham was to meet so he wouldn't know he was about to be arrested.

The uniformed deputy arrived in his patrol car while on shift for the department to meet up with the underage girl.

He was arrested and fired on the spot.

The sting also led to the arrest of former transportation commissioner 72-year-old John Norton Hardee.

Vandenham and Hardee are no longer in custody, according to arrest records.