Five Middle Georgia men are among 76 people arrested in the Southeast this week following a four-month-long investigation into people suspected of using technology and the internet to sexually exploit children.
Two men living in Peach County, 36-year-old Mark David Driver and 41-year-old Benjamin Frank Smith, were arrested Wednesday and charged with computer pornography. Driver is a registered sex offender who worked at a truck stop. Smith was a civilian employee at Robins Air Force Base, according to a Friday news release from the GBI.
Kyam Michele Forsyth was arrested Thursday in Putnam County. The unemployed 25-year-old is charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of children and possession of child pornography, jail records show. He remained in jail on a $25,000 bond Friday.
Nicholas Knight, an unemployed 29-year-old, was arrested in Dublin and remained at the Laurens County jail Friday. John Percy Hart, an unemployed 63-year-old, was arrested in Sandersville on Thursday. Hart is charged with 10 counts of sexual exploitation of children, records show.
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The men are among 34 others arrested in Georgia as a result of “Operation Southern Impact II,” which included investigations by Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, according to a Friday news release from the GBI.
Six people arrested in Georgia “traveled for the purpose of meeting and having sex with a minor,” the release said.
One of those cases involved sextortion, “an alarming trend” in which a person obtains sexually explicit photos of minors and then threatens or blackmails the minor for additional obscene images or videos, the news release said.
A total of 13 children were rescued or identified as victims as a result of the coordinated operation.