The GBI says the joint, proactive operation, called Operation Southern Impact II, was coordinated by nine Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in those eight states and focused on people who own and share child pornography and those who are sexually exploiting children in other ways using technology and the internet. During the operation, the GBI says search warrants were executed and knock and talks were conducted in eight states. During those search warrants and knock and talks, the GBI says digital devices were previewed and 1, digital devices were seized.
Of those devices seized, were mobile phones. A total of law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies participated in the operation. During the course of the operation, some of the investigations extended to other states including Tennessee, Iowa, Mississippi, and Missouri. Leads were sent to these additional states and their respective ICAC Task Forces followed up and helped or developed their own investigations. The GBI says while investigators regularly target the trading of all types of child pornography, in Operation Southern Impact II investigators targeted those seeking out and distributing the most violent child pornography involving infants and toddlers.
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Six of those arrested in Georgia traveled for the purpose of meeting and having sex with a minor. There was one arrest involving sextortion, a trend involving subjects that obtain sexually explicit photos of minors and then threaten or blackmail the victim for additional obscene images or videos.
Leesburg, GA Registered Sex Offenders in Lee County
Investigators found instances in which arrested subjects, some of whom had no prior criminal history, were working in positions of trust or jobs where interaction with children is common. Eight registered sex offenders were encountered in Georgia, during the course of this operation, four of those offenders were charged with new crimes related to child pornography while the others were charged with various compliance violations. The GBI says there was an additional subject who had an arrest for a prior sex offense but was not a registered sex offender. At least one foster parent with young children was arrested.
There were also searches conducted where guns were found and illegal drugs were discovered.
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In Georgia, a total of 38 search warrants were executed and 12 knock and talks were conducted during Operation Southern Impact II. Law enforcement officers conducting the searches were looking for evidence of possession and distribution of child pornography using the internet as well as evidence of other child exploitation related crimes.
Over the course of the operation, digital devices were examined and digital media and devices were seized as evidence. A number of arrests were made that were not directly related to child pornography but rather as a result of the investigative actions taken during Operation Southern Impact II. More specifically, these arrests consisted of offenders that were found to be non-compliant with the terms of previous criminal sentences.
The Commanders of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in these states wanted to reinforce to those who exploit children that the ICAC Task Forces will work together to make an impact in their respective states and the region as a whole. The cooperation among agencies and among states illustrates their level of commitment to detect, arrest, and prosecute child predators. Cooperation is always important in law enforcement, but it is never more important than when we set out to protect children.
Dozens arrested, 13 children rescued or identified after sweeping southeast sting
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