By Joe Johnson
Men from Athens-Clarke and Madison counties are among more than two dozen Georgia residents who were recently arrested for possessing images of sexually exploited children as part of the “Operation Sneaky Peach” multi agency investigation headed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Russell Summerville, 38, of North Billups Street in Athens and Paul Angel, 70, of Danielsville were each charged with multiple counts of sexual exploitation of children.
Those men and 24 others were arrested over an 11-day period in the statewide operation that was conducted by the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit along and 24 participating agencies that are part of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
According to the GBI, Operation Sneaky Peach involved three months of planning and included both proactive and reactive cases investigated by the GBI and affiliate agencies with the Georgia ICAC Task Force.
Proactive investigations consisted of targeting peer-to-peer network users sharing Child Sexual Abuse Material, commonly known as child pornography, and undercover chat investigations targeting suspects who communicate with and arrange to meet what is believed to be a child for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts.
Reactive investigations consisted of working CyberTips received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that involved the possession, distribution, and manufacturing of child porn.
The GBI said that during the operation, law enforcement agencies with the Georgia ICAC Task Force executed 34 residential search warrants and additional enforcement actions in 28 counties across the state. The warrants and other enforcement actions resulted in the arrest of the 26 suspects. Digital forensic investigators previewed 296 electronic devices on scene and seized 281 electronic devices, that included cellphones, tablets, computers, hard drives, and various data storage devices. Operation Sneaky Peach identified 30 children that were residing in households where online child sexual exploitation was occurring, according to the GBI, and four of the men who were arrested admitted to current or prior “hands-on” sexual offenses against a child.
Additionally, one offender was a minor who was served with a juvenile complaint.
The GBI said that more arrests may be forthcoming made after forensic processing of the seized electronic devices has been completed.
The following Georgia ICAC Task Force affiliate agencies participated in Operation Sneaky Peach: