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Hall Sheriffs Office assists in 23-arrest operation targeting online predators

Hall County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement assisted about 20 other agencies in an operation targeting men who “traveled from areas around metro Atlanta with the intent to meet a child for sex,” according to authorities.

“Operation Spring Cleaning” was a five-day operation starting Thursday that led to 23 arrests in Gwinnett County for alleged child exploitation.

“The purpose of ‘Operation Spring Cleaning’ was to arrest persons who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex,” according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation news release.

Gwinnett County detective David Smith said professional "chatters" posing as 13- and 14-year-olds posted profiles on dating and classified ad sites.

The suspects engaged with the chatters on these sites and arranged meetings with the purpose of having sex.

The suspects were arrested at two sites where they believed these meetings would take place.

GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles says the suspects are between 19 and 48 years old. It's unclear if they have lawyers.

According to the GBI, the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has made 77 arrests in similar operations since 2014.