Ga. children among those uncovered in exploitation probe - KMSP-TV

Ga. children among those uncovered in exploitation probe

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ATLANTA -

Some Georgia children have been rescued in an international hunt for child predators in what agents call one of the largest child sex operations ever uncovered.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday that more than 200 adults have been arrested in an international investigation of child pornography.

Federal law enforcement officers worked with local sheriffs' and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation after one trail led to the Savannah area.

"Danish police ran across a video of young children being  -- exploitation material and they notify Interpol. Interpol notifies our crime center in Washington D.C. They then look at the images and see they are coming out of the state of Georgia," said ICE special agent Brock Nicholson.

In all, the five-week child predator probe dubbed "Operation Sunflower" nabbed 245 suspects.

Authorities uncovered 123 victims, including five from Georgia.

Nicholson described one especially brutal incident from which the operation name was coined a year ago.

"This was about an 11-year-old girl who was about to be live raped on the internet, so authorities sent out the information and noticed that one of the images had a sign and there was a sunflower on it, which is indicative of the state of Kansas. It was then forwarded to our Kansas City office," said Nicholson.

Authorities were successful in tracking down the 11-year-old Kansas girl.

"The biggest similarity is almost all of these involved people of trust that the child knew, whether it be in the home or those out of the home. You know, teachers and law enforcement and coaches," Nicholson said.

Nicholson says child stranger childhood abductions do occur, they are rare. Some of the victims were as young as 2, he said.

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