UTAH (ABC4) – Authorities have cracked down on a disturbing upward trend of “child pornography and illegal contact with minors” throughout the state of Utah.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office has been working in conjunction with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) to address the troubling issue.

“To respond to the growing number of cases involving child pornography and illegal contact with minors, the Utah Attorney General’s Office led a statewide effort to address this growing problem,” authorities say.

The crackdown involved 27 law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Utah. Sting operations over the course of one week saw officers intercepting a multitude of messages and underage illicit photos of minors.

Authorities say since the beginning of 2020, the number of cases involving sexual contact with minors has “exploded by 600% and it keeps getting worse.”

So far, a multitude of Utahns have been implicated including 12 arrests, 8 search warrants served and 13 pending cases.

“Not only is there a constant rise in cases, but many of the encounters we are intercepting are also bolder and more aggressive than ever,” said ICAC Commander Alan White. “We’re also seeing younger victims — even toddlers, more often. It’s disturbing and overwhelming, to say the least.”