SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Nineteen people have been arrested and charged with child-exploitation-related crimes after the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children executed a four-day undercover operation last week.
The operation, known as Operation Digital Siege, involved 29 agencies and 70 Task Force agents and was performed between Aug. 16 to Aug. 19 across the state of Utah. Authorities arrested 19 offenders and are expecting more arrests shortly.
Agents searched homes for child sexual abuse materials and arrested those suspected of “exploiting children for sexual purposes,” the Utah Office of the Attorney General‘s press release said.
“Sting operations like Operation Digital Siege are bittersweet. On one hand, I am elated we are prosecuting suspected predators, pornographers and pedophiles,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “But cases like these also remind me how pervasive these dangers are in our state.”
Reyes continued to say they would not rest “until [they] have done everything possible to protect our children online,” saying their motivation is their own children.
“All kids deserve to grow up without being exploited, abused or trafficked,” he said.
Offenders are facing a variety of charges including enticement of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, dealing in harmful materials to a minor, sexual extortion, and human trafficking of a child.
”I was very impressed by the preparation, professionalism and productivity of the ICAC team. Utahns need to know how fortunate we are to have such capable and effective law enforcement personnel protecting us and our children.” House Majority Assistant Whip Karianne Lisonbee said.
For a full list of the agencies that assisted in Operation Digital Siege, see the release.