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Multistate child exploitation operation bust leads to 82 arrests, 17 rescues, officials say

Officials in Georgia announced Friday that 82 suspects were arrested as a result of a four-month-long sting across eight states targeting those who possessed or distributed “the most violent sexual abuse material involving infants and toddlers.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said Friday that the operation, dubbed Operation Southern Impact III, focused on arresting individuals who possessed and distributed child pornography, in addition to those who sexually exploited children using the Internet, the agency said in a press release.

The bust was coordinated among tasks forces in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

In all, 31 people were arrested in Georgia alone, seven of whom traveled with the intention of having sex with a minor.

Officials said the ages of those arrested ranged from as young as 20 to as old as 70. A youth group leader and a day care administrator were among those charged.