(KTHV)—A firefighter. A business owner. A dishwasher. They were among 82 people arrested as part of a massive, multi-state child exploitation operation conducted across eight southeastern states, including Georgia.
Seventeen children were recovered in the operation, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
“It’s not uncommon at all for us to find children in the homes of people who are collecting and viewing child pornography and it’s not uncommon for them to be victims of that person,” said GBI Special Agent in Charge Debbie Garner.
The operation began four months ago and culminated in three days of investigative actions to include search warrant executions, undercover operations, arrests and sex offender compliance verification visits in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In Georgia, 31 people were arrested during the sting, which was dubbed “Operation Southern Impact III.” Seven of those arrested had traveled to meeting a minor to have sex, the GBI said.
Investigators in Georgia “targeted those seeking out and distributing the most violent sexual abuse material involving infants and toddlers,” according to the GBI news release.
A total of 56 search warrants were executed and 41 knock and talks were conducted in Georgia during Operation Southern Impact III.
During the operation, four registered sex offenders were encountered and arrested in Georgia on charges related to child pornography. One of the registered sex offenders arrested during Operation Southern Impact III was initially arrested by the GBI during a very similar operation in 2015.
The GBI said 972 digital media and devices were seized as evidence and illegal drugs and firearms were also found.
Those in custody and charged in Georgia as part of Operation Southern Impact III are:
- James Barfield IV, 51, Atlanta, GA, home improvement store employee
- Dillan M. Bell, 26, Allenhurst, GA, unemployed
- Gerald Chamberlain, 34, Rome, GA, golf course maintenance worker
- Carol Chellew, 56, Jefferson, GA, county employee
- Doug Chellew, 56, Jefferson, GA, department store employee
- Timothy Wayne Diggs, 39, Metter, GA, information technology specialist
- Keith James Diver, 37, Norcross, GA, restaurant employee
- Erick Noe Gonzalez, 26, Buford, GA, landscaper
- Erik Gordon, 30, Morrow, GA, shipping company employee
- Desmond Lemond Hasley, 27, Douglasville, GA, staffing company employee
- Keidron Jayquan Isham, 23, Rome, GA, unemployed
- Claude Martin Johnson IV, 21, Augusta, GA, unemployed
- Andrew Kim, 30, Suwanee, GA, business owner
- Jordan Logan, 33, Grovetown, GA, painter
- Jonathan Craig Manning, 28, Rome, GA, railroad worker
- Andrew J. Martz, 30, Tyrone, GA, student
- Matthew James McDurmond, 26, Cedartown, unknown
- Terry Menard, 61, Roswell, GA, multimedia designer
- Daniel Joseph Mullinax, 35, Auburn, GA, unemployed
- Justin Lee Myers, 22, Cleveland, GA, unknown
- Andrew Benjamin Nelson, 42, Marietta, GA, construction worker
- Michael David Quinn, 44, Roswell, GA, unknown
- Matthew Steven Ramski, 37, Cumming, GA, graphic design artist
- Arlen Lemuel Riddle, 46, Muscadine, AL, fireman
- Malchijah Robinson, 40, Decatur, GA, unemployed
- David Chris Sammons, 33, Eatonton, GA, factory worker
- Omar S. Sanchez-Viera, 40, Jonesboro, GA, health supplement company employee
- Chad Sitzwohl, 35, Dawsonville, GA, factory worker
- Wille D. Slaughter, 33, Valdosta, GA, military veteran
- Wan Yeung Tang, 45, Cumming, GA, dishwasher
- Tyler Wooten, 21, Sharpsburg, GA, student