A total of 35 people were arrested during a mutually coordinated operation between Georgia and Tennessee law enforcement agencies. Operation Watchful Guardians targeted online child predators and those who traffic both children and adults in the sex industry, to include those that are willing to pay to have sex with a child.

The joint, proactive undercover investigation was coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Operation Watchful Guardians was conducted over a three day period beginning February 2nd and was centered in Dalton and Chattanooga Tennessee.

In Georgia, 12 people were arrested over a two day period beginning February 3rd. Those arrested in Georgia were charged with crimes to include Criminal Attempt to Commit Child Molestation and Criminal Attempt to Commit Trafficking of Persons for Labor or Sexual Servitude. One adult was identified and arrested on adult prostitution related charges. Investigations continue and additional charges may be forthcoming.

The arrestees, ranging in age from 19 to 43, traveled primarily from areas around Dalton and Chattanooga, but some from as far as Gwinnett County with the intent to meet a child for sex. Some of those who were arrested had agreed to pay to have sex with the child. One person was arrested with a gun and a butcher knife.

The following Bartow County residents were arrested and charged in Whitfield County as part of Operation Watchful Guardians:

38-year-old Virgil McKeachie of Rydal

32-year-old Carlos Rivas-Canales of Adairsville

21-year-old Warren Hicks of White