Last week’s arrest part of multi-state effort

Last week, when the GBI made an arrest on Tyrone, the agency was tight-lipped about the details of the arrest.

On Friday, the GBI released information about the scope of the multi-state operation.

A total of 82 people were arrested, and 17 children were rescued or identified as victims during a mutually-coordinated operation between eight southeastern states. The joint, proactive operation, Operation Southern Impact III, was coordinated by 10 Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in those eight states and focused on persons who possess and distribute child pornography and those who are sexually exploiting children in other ways using technology and the internet, the GBI said in a press release.

According to the agency, the planning for Operation Southern Impact III began approximately 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. The arrestees ranged in age from 20 to 70. Some of their occupations included non-profit employee, small business owner, store clerk, mechanic, daycare administrator, youth group leader, former high school band director, freelance photographer, construction worker, and painter, added the agency.

During the operation, 134 search warrants were executed and 215 knock and talks were conducted. In Georgia, 31 people were arrested during Operation Southern Impact III. Most of those arrests involved the possession and/or distribution of child pornography.

Those arrested in Georgia were charged with crimes pursuant to O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2, Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007. Additional charges are likely and other arrests will occur after analysis of seized digital devices, said the GBI.

Local arrests were Andrew J. Martz, 30, Tyrone, student and Tyler Wooten, 21, Sharpsburg, student.

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