Atlanta, GA - On Friday, May 3, 2019, eighty-two people were arrested through a multi-state child exploitation operation named Operation Southern Impact III, rescuing seventeen children in the process. Mutually coordinated among eight states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia - the operation targeted individuals who possess and distribute child pornography or sexually exploit children.
"I commend the work of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Community Supervision, and local law enforcement officials through Operation Southern Impact III," said Governor Brian Kemp. "By cracking down on these unspeakable crimes, we have shown that these acts are not tolerated in our state. We must continue our work to protect our communities and families to ensure a safe future for our children."
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces in the eight states involved in Operation Southern Impact III targeted individuals and organizations both distributing and obtaining the most violent pornographic material involving infants and toddlers.
"The dedicated law enforcement professionals who are part of the Georgia ICAC Task Force will not cease searching for those who are producing, trading, and collecting this graphic material," said Debbie Garner, Special Agent in charge of the GBI's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit and Commander of the Georgia ICAC Task Force. "We will continue to work together to find, investigate, and prosecute these predators."
The thirty-one individuals arrested in Georgia are charged with crimes under the Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2. Further charges and arrests may occur once seized digital devices are analyzed.
About the Georgia ICAC Task Force
The Georgia ICAC Task Force is comprised of 230+ local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies and prosecutor’s offices. The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U. S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level.