Los Angeles County Lifeguards alerted Manhattan Beach police to unusual activity taking place at a public bathroom located at Marine Avenue at The Beach, authorities said.
“The same men were frequently using and returning to the location, and men were loitering in the area as well as inside the restroom for long periods of time,” Stephanie Martin of MBPD said.
Lifeguards and maintenance staff also found graffiti that depicted “graphic sexual images as well as holes that were drilled in the partitions of the bathroom stalls,” Martin said.
Manhattan Beach detectives began monitoring websites and chat rooms where discussions about the “Marine Bathroom” were taking place and determined the restroom was being used as a meeting place for sexual activity, police said.
Detectives then set up a series of sting operations using surveillance of the location and information gathered from online outlets to arrest 18 suspects.
The men, aged 21 to 59-years-old, were arrested on a range of charges including soliciting and engaging in lewd conduct in a public place, loitering, utilizing a peephole in a restroom, invasion of privacy and indecent exposure.
All 18 suspects have been released from police custody pending a court date or further investigation, officials said.