The unannounced raid, targeting people authorities say have repeatedly failed to make child support payments, got underway at 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, led by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department and the county's Domestic Relations Office.
"They're usually asleep, especially after 1, 2 o'clock in the morning," said Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Whalon Behr. "People are home. They're tucked in bed. It's easier to locate them."
More than 30 sheriff's deputies, most from Montgomery County along with 5 from Bucks County, went looking for 37 people. In 5 hours, they rounded up 15 men and 3 women from 4 targeted areas: Lansdale/Hatfield, Collegeville/Pottstown, Norristown/Lower Merion and Willow Grove.
Most went quietly. At least one man had to be wrestled to the ground.
One man was incensed over being taken in for failure to support his kids, saying authorities should be going after drug dealers instead.
The argument for this action is that children are harmed when their parents refuse to support them, so the system must act.
"To keep people and hold people responsible," said Rebecca Colantuno of the county's Domestic Relations Enforcement Unit. "Whether they're males or females, it's their responsibility to support their children."
In all, authorities said the 18 people arrested owe a total of $18,000 in child support.
They said the defendants previously agreed in court to make specific child support payments but have since ignored repeated requests to make good on those payments.
Authorities estimate at least 25 children will now get some money as a result of Tuesday's roundup.
Of the alleged offenders still at large, authorities say the 8 'most wanted' owe a combined total of more than $250,000 in back payments.