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From grocery store clerk to pest control tech, 20 arrested in underage sex sting

BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. — A sting operation netted 20 accused child predators over the weekend in Bartow County. Detectives told Channel 2's Berndt Petersen the suspects went online looking for children to have sex with.

"It's a very big problem. People who are online actively looking for children to manipulate and have sex with," said Debbie Garner, a special agent in charge.

The suspects, ranged in age from 20 to 59. Some traveled up to two hours from areas all across northwest Georgia. Investigators said the men planned to meet a child for sex.

Inside the Conyers Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, Detective Kendall Ham worked more than 12 hours a day at the computer.

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"During the three-day operation, I probably communicated with at least 20 people,” said Ham, who posed as a young girl.

The operation was coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Several detectives like Ham visited various chat rooms and websites on the internet where predators have been known to go to find young teens and children. Only this time, it was a police officer they were chatting with.

"We were not actively seeking them. They reach out to us," he said.

When the suspects arrived in Bartow County to a house, a restaurant, a hotel to hook up with who they thought was going to be a child, the police were waiting.

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