FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Investigators in Forsyth County say they have arrested 24 people in a major bust that targeted child predators and people who use children for human trafficking.
Operation Just Cause was a four-day effort that was based in Cumming and included law enforcement personnel from 13 state, local and federal agencies.
Three of the people arrested live in Forsyth County and nearly all the rest live within 50 miles of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office. Among those arrested are two registered sex offenders and another sex offender currently serving time in a state prison who was using a smuggled cellphone.
“These individuals knew and clearly knew that they were arranging sexual encounters with very young, what they believed to be very young, children,” said Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman.
The sheriff told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that Operation Just Cause took months to plan.
Freeman shared drone video of some of the dramatic arrests that went down last weekend.
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“If you come to this county and you think you’re going to prey on our children, you have indeed picked the wrong county,” Freeman said
The suspects range in age from 19 to 65, and charges against the 24 busted in the sting include everything from sex trafficking to soliciting kids for sex to distributing child pornography to drug crimes.
“It’s a big operation, and to me, it’s a beautiful thing. I love these cases because I love getting these people off the streets,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Nick Annan said.
Among those arrested are Mackenzi Stinson and Johnathon Butler, who investigators say drove from Tennessee to Forsyth County with their 2-year-old daughter to have illegal sex with a cop posing as a child online.
“I don’t know as a human being, as a father, I have tough time even comprehending that,” Freeman said.
Thirteen local, state and federal agencies were involved in the operation, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
“We could literally do this nonstop," GBI director Vic Reynolds told Diamant.
Freeman had a warning for parents.
“You need to talk to your children about the dangers that are posed and what’s lurking out there. Parents need to monitor the social media of their children. I know sometimes we think that we’re intruding in their lives,” Freeman said.
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