Operation Interception Leads to 21 Arrests Prior to Super Bowl
Just days before Super Bowl LIII, 21 people were arrested and charged for sex trafficking, child pornography, and/or exploitation of a minor.
The arrests came following a months-long investigation called “Operation Interception” conducted by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit, Brookhaven Police Department, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, and United States Marshals Service Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Debbie Gardner was the special agent in charge of the operation.
“The goal of ‘Operation Interception’ was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line, have sexually explicit conversations, and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” Gardner states. “Additionally, the operation targeted those who are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor.”
Investigators posed as minors on known websites that advertise for the sex industry as well as on popular dating websites. Overall, the investigators participated in 200 conversations initiated by the subjects, and when the investigators revealed themselves as “minors,” some of the people they spoke with continued to initiate sexual conversations, share pornography or, in some cases, arrange to meet up with the minor (the investigator) for sex.
The 21 arrested ranged in age from 22-55 and included a behavioral health case manager, a grocery store clerk and a software company creative assistant, among others.
Operation Interception included help from 22 different agencies. Since 2002, the Georgia ICAC Task Force has made over 2,000 arrests.
For more information, as well as descriptions of those arrested, see the full press release here.