As part of a nationwide investigation 11 local people have been arrested on child exploitation and prostitution charges, officials at the FBI field office in Augusta confirmed Monday.
The suspects’ identities have not been released.
Jim Harrison, the supervisor senior resident agent at the FBI, said the arrests were made in connection with Operation Cross Country VII. The effort involved 47 FBI divisions in 76 cities across the country. The operation rescued 105 children being victimized through prostitution, agents said, and led to 19 arrests in Georgia on child exploitation and prostitution charges.
In the Augusta area, nine people were arrested on prostitution-related charges and two more arrests were made on exploitation charges, Atlanta FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said.
Harrison said the FBI’s Augusta Child Exploitation Task Force is comprised of officers from the Richmond County and Columbia County sheriff’s offices, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia State Parole Office. The Augusta-based task force conducted its operations on July 17 and July 18.
In the metro Atlanta area, eight adults were arrested on exploitation-related charges and two juvenile victims were recovered, the FBI said.
Emmett says the Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force, an extension of the FBI’s Atlanta field office, worked last week to identify, find and recover child exploitation victims and arrest those who were responsible for the crimes.