As a result of a proactive online undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, and the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations, 12 people were arrested over three days beginning Thursday, May 4th.
The following were arrested and charged with trafficking persons for labor or sexual servitude:
- 45-year-old Jose A. Martinez-Medina from Cave Spring (factory supervisor)
- 25-year-old Tyler Jordon Croft from Hull (unemployed)
Law enforcement arrested the following person for nine counts of sexual exploitation of children:
- 33-year-old Curtis Breeden from Cartersville (factory worker)
The following were arrested and charged with violating the Computer or electronic pornography and child exploitation prevention act:
- 38-year-old Ameziane Hadjaz from Acworth (sales engineer)
- 47-year-old Jason Rogich from Adairsville (unemployed)
- 33-year-old Algenone Kenonta Shaw from Cartersville (unknown)
- 43-year-old Senaca Terry Darns from Cartersville (landscaper)
- 56-year-old Melvin Walcott from Cartersville (rideshare driver)
- 42-year-old Jonathan Brumit from Lindale (forklift driver)
- 43-year-old Dannis Lucious Jackson from Rome (warehouse worker)
- 24-year-old Justin Leo Tan from Lawrenceville (unemployed)
- 64-year-old William Biggs, Jr from Cartersville (unemployed)
Additional charges and arrests may be forthcoming.
“Operation Golden Eagle” took several months of planning and involved 12 law enforcement agencies collaborating. The arrestees, ranging in age from 24-64, traveled from areas around Bartow County, GA, intending to meet a child for sex. Eleven of those arrested believed they were going to a location to meet with a child and engage in prearranged sex acts. Law enforcement arrested one for possessing child sexual abuse material found during a search warrant execution. GBI digital forensic investigators were on hand at the operation to forensically process 16 electronic devices that they seized as evidence.
The goal of “Operation Golden Eagle” was to identify persons who engage in sexually explicit communication with children on the internet, arrange to engage in a sex act with the child, and then travel to meet the child to have sex. Additionally, the operation targeted those willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor. Child predators visit online chat rooms and websites, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content, and arrange a meeting with them to have sex. These predators targeted both boys and girls. Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC Task Force has arrested over 178 people in similar operations.
During “Operation Golden Eagle,” undercover investigators had more than 98 exchanges with persons on various social media and internet platforms. During many of these exchanges, the subjects directed conversations toward sex with persons they believed to be minors; some of these conversations involved arranging sex with a child in exchange for monetary compensation. Investigators established that 21 cases met the threshold for arrest; eleven of those cases concluded with arrests after the perpetrator attempted to meet the “child” in person. In some cases, the subject introduced obscene or lude content, often exposing what the perpetrator thought was a child to pornography or requesting the child produce and send sexual or pornographic images for them. About half of the exchanges involved websites used for dating, socializing, or even websites used for classified advertisements.
Although some websites promote themselves as “adults-only,” it is not uncommon for law enforcement to work cases in which children access these sites, establish profiles claiming to be older, and then find themselves vulnerable to victimization, harassment, blackmail, or assault. Investigators identified several subjects communicating simultaneously, with multiple investigators posing as minors. Such activity confirms what investigators uncover conducting these types of investigations: that many predators specifically seek out children on such websites to groom them as potential victims of sexual contact.
Twelve law enforcement agencies, all partners in the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children’s Task Force, participated in “Operation Golden Eagle.” These agencies were:
1. Bartow County Sheriff’s Office
2. Bartow County District Attorney’s Office
3. Cartersville Police Department
4. Federal Bureau of Investigation
5. Floyd County Police Department
6. Georgia Bureau of Investigation
7. Hall County Sheriff’s Office
8. Homeland Security Investigations
9. Lilburn Police Department
10. Polk County Police Department
11. Roswell Police Department
12. United States Secret Service
The Georgia ICAC Task Force comprises 290+ local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies, and prosecutor’s offices. The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U.S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention, and community education. Agencies developed the ICAC Program in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level. Any Georgia law enforcement agency wishing to join GA ICAC Task Force is encouraged to contact the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation Unit, asks anyone with information about these cases or other cases of child exploitation to contact them at 404-270-8870 or report via the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline at CyberTipline.org. One can also submit anonymous tips by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.