82 Arrested in Major Child Abuse Ring Bust
171 agencies coordinate in massive child exploitation sting operation
A massive sting operation that targeted a child abuse and exploitation network has resulted in 82 arrests, according to reports.
US federal authorities coordinated with local police for the huge eight-state child exploitation sting operation that successfully rescued 17 children.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Operation Southern Impact III rescued or identified victims across several states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The GBI declared the operation a “great display of local, state, and federal partnerships.”
According to WBNS, the people arrested from the four-month operation ranged from ages 20 to 70.
Among those apprehended were a non-profit employee, daycare administrator, youth group leader, and former high school band director.
GBI Special Agent Debbie Garner leads the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and says she feels children will now be safer.
Their leads often started as cyber tips.
"Approximately 500 cyber tips a month from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Garner said.
"Some of those were cases that we did search warrants and knock and talks on during this operation."
In total, law enforcement agencies arrested 31 people in Georgia, the most of any state in the sting.
Garner says they were either trading, collecting or producing child porn.
But the GBI also noted that the sting helped put an end to the molestation of hundreds of children.
Investigators have found that people who collect and deal in child porn also often perpetrate such abuse themselves and don’t merely view the material.
"There is actually a statistical correlation between those people who are collecting and viewing child pornography and those that are committing hands-on child molestation offenses,” Garner said.
A total of 171 agencies took part in the operation.