Authorities have executed more than 40 search warrants culminating a three-month investigation into the distribution of child pornography over the Internet in Georgia, including the Augusta area.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, along with local and federal law enforcement agencies, had made 16 arrests and confiscated 60 computers by this afternoon in a sweep that began in the morning.
Two search warrants were executed in Richmond County today by the Richmond County Sheriffs Office, the FBI and the GBI, a spokesman said.
As a result of the searches, several computers were seized and are being held for forensic examination.
In addition, three other child pornography related cases that were not part of this operation were also conducted today which also resulted in computers being seized, a GBI spokesman said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on its Web site that the operation known as "Operation Shattered Innocence" included 17 local agencies from all regions in the state.
John Whitaker, special agent in charge of GBI's high tech crimes investigations, says the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force detected the porn distribution ring through software tools used to find Internet users who were sharing computer files. He says the computer files consisted of child pornography ranging from nude photos to graphic videos.
The task force is composed of 17 local law enforcement agencies and state and federal agencies, including the three Georgia U.S. attorney offices.