Charges for the 24 people arrested include violating the computer or electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention act and trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude.
The sting began last Thursday and led to the arrests of suspected predators as young as 19 and as old as 65. Most were from North Georgia, but others traveled to Forsyth County from surrounding states to meet children, deputies said.
“Online child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex,” said Cpl. Doug Rainwater, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “During the multiday operation, investigators had numerous exchanges with subjects on various social media or internet platforms.”
Believing they were communicating with children, many of the suspects geared the online conversations toward sex and, in some cases, sent lewd or obscene content, Rainwater said. Others allegedly asked the undercover agents to send them nude or pornographic images.
One suspect, 29-year-old Michael Keith Coker, is a registered sex offender who allegedly tried to communicate with children using a cellphone that was smuggled into Augusta State Prison.
Two others, Mackenzi Stinson and Johnathon Butler, allegedly drove from Tennessee with their 2-year-old so they could have sex with a minor.
“As a human being, as a father, I have a tough time even comprehending that,” Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman said at a news conference announcing the arrests.
Police said several of the suspects communicated simultaneously with multiple investigators posing as minors.
A total of 13 law enforcement agencies joined the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in the operation, including departments from north Fulton, Cherokee, Coweta, Floyd, Hall and Gwinnett counties.
Those arrested include:
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