Eighteen arrested in undercover child exploitation investigation
DECATUR, Ga. -- An undercover state and federal investigation into the exploitation of minors led to the recent arrest of 18 men in Georgia .
The men were arrested over a five-day period beginning on Thursday, May 12th, according to a release from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The sting, dubbed "Operation Riptide," was coordinated by the GBI's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the Glynn County Police Department. Fourteen local law enforcement agencies participated in the operation, in addition to the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Secret Service.
The undercover investigation was conducted online in a coordinated effort by the federal agencies, the GBI and the local agencies willing to participate, including the Alpharetta Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department, the Brunswick Police Department, the Clayton County Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff's Department, the Coweta County Sheriff's Office, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Glynn County District Attorney's Office, the Glynn County Sheriff's Office, the Jasper County Sheriff's Office, the Liberty County Sheriff's Office, the McIntosh County Sheriff's Office, the Polk County Police Department, the Warner Robins Police Department and the Woodstock Police Department.
All of the men arrested during the operation were charged with violating the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007, a Georgia code that states that one cannot use an electronic device, such as a phone or computer, to view images of any "identifiable child engaged in sexually explicit conduct."
The GBI release states that the suspects, who ranged in age from 19 to 58 years old and worked in occupations such as construction workers truck drivers and restaurant workers, traveled to the Brunswick area from parts of Georgia and North Florida with the intent of meeting a child for sex. The GBI stated that the purpose of this operation was to target "those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor."
The 18 men arrested as a part of Operation Riptide are as follows:
- Kenneth Dwayne Baker, W/M, from Waynesville, GA, 24 years of age, occupation -HVAC worker
- Christopher Oquendo Martinez, H/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 24 years of age, occupation - construction worker
- Donald Ray Sheffield, W/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 58 years of age, occupation - truck driver
- Sanjeev Hansraj Seenath, A/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 25 years of age, occupation - pharmacy student
- Rigoberto Margarito Hernandez, H/M, from Brunswick, GA, 21 years of age, occupation - construction
- Andrew Chase Lowe, W/M, 19 years of age, from St. Mary's, GA, occupation - landscaper
- John Robert Schmidt, W/M, 36 years of age, from Jacksonville, FL, occupation - food & beverage manager
- Samuel M. Lee, A/M, 26 years of age, from St. Mary's, GA, occupation - defense contractor
- Michael Morrow Foley, W/M, 52 years of age, from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, occupation - driver
- Ulbio Quijije, H/M, 26 years of age, from Kingsland, GA, occupation - self employed
- Andrew Paul Stawniczy, W/M, 25 years of age, from Orange Park, FL, occupation - tire store employee
- Bryant Keith Taylor, W/M, 35 years of age, from Brunswick, GA, occupation - truck driver
- Armando Modesto-Sevilla, H/M, 22 years of age, from Waycross, GA, occupation - agricultural worker
- Joshua Adam Bullard, W/M, 19 years of age, from Kings Bay, GA, occupation - US Navy
- Aaron Wayne Jacobs, W/M, 27 years of age, Waynesville, GA, occupation - EMT/Fireman
- Antwan Levar Polite, B/M, 26 years of age, Hinesville, GA, occupation - restaurant employee/student
- Kevin Scott Kerr, W/M, 48 years of age, St. Paul, MN, occupation - commodities trader/news contributor
- Troy Austin Piano, W/M, 23 years of age, Jacksonville, FL, occupation - self employed
Polygraph tests of eight of the suspects produced admissions of guilt in relation to their arrests. Some suspects even admitted to engaging in similar online activity in the past.
Additional charges may be forthcoming.