ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputies took on Internet child predators this summer with "Operation Predator Hunt". Wednesday, they revealed it was a large-scale operation to rid the community of those targeting children over the Internet-for sex.
In all, 12 people were arrested. At least one of the victims was 4 years of age.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office has a banner that reads, "They're hunting our children. We're hunting them."
So who are the people who are accused of child pornography?
Sgt. Grant King of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office says, "A lot of them you've never heard of. The neighbors will say they're very quiet, hanging out with the kids in the neighborhood."
Operation Predator Hunt was an initiative the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office conducted to track down alleged child predators and confiscate the images of child porn they allegedly possessed or downloaded. And some of what detectives say they found on 60 computers is sickening.
Sgt. Grant King explains, "We've seen on videos... babies in diapers being molested."
Investigators say the 12 people arrested in this sting operation have all kinds of careers like, "Flooring, cook, retired...", according to Det. Steve Sessoms. He adds that one of them worked for a grocery store.
The suspects are allegedly using social media to befriend some of their victims.
Det. Rob Valentine says, "They just start chatting and they build that rapport with them and then they try to move it forward from there."
Five children were saved thanks to this operation. But investigators fear for the others waiting to be rescued.
Altogether, the 12 suspects now face more than 420 felony charges, according to investigators. Detectives say they also seized more than 5,000 pornographic images or videos.
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