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A look inside GBI’s child exploitation division

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     The same week a Pickens man was indicted on 26 counts of child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and a host of other nasty charges involving two very young victims, the GBI was investigating a child pornography case involving a different Pickens man who lived in Arbor Hills.    

    A week or so later the GBI sent out a press release to media outlets across the state that reported a spike in the number of arrests made through their Child Exploitation And Computer Crimes Unit (CECCU) and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). The increase was staggering - from 189 arrests in 2014 to 275 in 2016. This was up even more from between 2008 and 2010, when there were a total of 435 arrests made through these divisions.
    The GBI said the jump in arrests was a direct result of active new affiliates – local, state and federal law agencies and prosecutorial entities - that conduct proactive investigations. These are undercover operations like “Riptide” in Brunswick, Ga., a five-day investigation this May that resulted in 18 arrests. The arrestees, between 19 and 58 years old, had traveled from areas around Brunswick and from north Florida with the intent to meet children for sex.  Their occupations were wide ranging - from a construction worker, pharmacy student, and truck driver, to a food and beverage manager, agricultural worker, restaurant worker and a commodities trader.
    All of these numbers and statistics are disturbing, to say the least, because behind each number are children like those two young victims of the Pickens man who were subjected to unimaginable sexual abuse; Behind those statistics are the disgusting online child pornography websites and photos that were presented during his trial, and those that led to charges for the other Pickens man. 
    To find out more about the state of child exploitation and child pornography and how it’s handled through agencies like the CECCU and ICAC, the Progress got in touch with the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit Assistant Special Agent Brian Johnston. 
See the full story in this week's print or online editions.