Law enforcement in Greenville announced on Friday the results of a four-day-long sting meant to snag alleged child predators.
Operation Intercept, as the sting was known, took place from Sept. 11 to 14. Officers from Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and Greenville Police Department worked together in a bust where authorities posed as a minor and engaged with people online.
“Ten adults solicited sex from, traveled to and agreed to meet ... what they believed was a 14-year-old-child,” Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown explained. “What they met, however, was a team of law enforcement officers waiting to take them down.”
The 10 arrested for being alleged child predators face charges such as attempted criminal sexual conduct, solicitation and sexual exploitation all with minors. Some of those arrested had previous warrants for alleged crimes such as burglary, criminal sexual conduct and solicitation.
During the sting, Brown said law enforcement officers learned of multiple potential “live victims,” meaning real children. Investigators are working to find those child and the victimizers. Investigators are also working to identify individuals who did not show up after soliciting sex with an undercover agent posing as a minor.
“We prevented crime from occurring,” said Greenville Police Chief Ken Miller. “The individuals (arrested) are individuals who would violate your children.”
Brown and Miller credited the success of the sting to cooperation between their forces as well as the state’s attorney general’s office and federal agency such as Homeland Security.
Over the last year, the sheriff’s department’s internet crimes against child unit has grown and worked to pull in other authorities to assist in their mission, making the unit more effective, Brown said.
Eleven others were arrested in the sting for soliciting prostitution.
Mug shots of those arrested can be seen on the Greenville Police Departments social media page.
“Some time ago, I was asked how I would simply define Greenville, South Carolina,” Brown said. “It is no longer a sleepy little village on the banks of the Reedy. While this is true, by eliminating the danger of child predators in our communities, we can eventually be defined, hopefully, as the safest village on the banks of the Reedy.”