AP NEWS

NC SBI part of multi-state law enforcement sting that targeted child exploitation

May 3, 2019

The State Bureau of Investigation said Friday that 17 children have been rescued from child exploitation and 82 suspects have been arrested, including at least two from the Triangle, as part of a special multi-state investigation that included the Carolinas.

The sting was named “Operation Southern Impact III” and included 171 law enforcement officers across eight states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, the SBI said in a written statement.

Investigators said six people in North Carolina were arrested on underage sex charges.

Two of those suspects snared in the sting were arrested in Cary, a town spokesman said Friday.

More details about the other arrests made in North Carolina were pending, the SBI said.

The suspects were accused of traveling to meet and have sex with minors or of possessing and distributing child pornography.

According to the SBI, planning for the special task force began four months ago and unfolded over three days of law enforcement action.

The suspects who were arrested ranged in age from 20 to 70 years old, and their occupations included a firefighter, restaurant worker, store clerk, small business owner, youth minister, students and a construction worker.

The SBI said the task force executed 134 search warrants across the eight states, and 1,613 digital devices were seized, including 203 cell phones.