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18 arrested in GBI's “Operation Riptide” targeting child predators

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As a result of a proactive undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and the Glynn County Police Department, 18 people were arrested over a five day period beginning Thursday, May12, 2016.  Those arrested were charged with O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2, Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.  Additional charges may be forthcoming.

“Operation Riptide” was a five day proactive effort centered in Glynn County, GA.  The operation took months of planning.  The arrestees, ranging in age from 19 to 58, traveled from areas around Brunswick and from North Florida with the intent to meet a child for sex.  Some of their occupations included construction worker, pharmacy student, truck driver, food and beverage manager, agricultural worker, restaurant worker, and a commodities trader.

The purpose of “Operation Riptide” was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.  In addition, the operation targeted those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor. On-line child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex.  The children these predators target are both boys and girls.  

Along with the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center (GISAC) and the Glynn County Police Department, eighteen (18) additional law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices participated in “Operation Riptide” as members of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. These agencies were:

1)    Alpharetta Police Department
2)    Atlanta Police Department
3)    Brunswick Police Department
4)    Clayton County Police Department
5)    Cook County Sheriff’s Department
6)    Coweta County Sheriff’s Office
7)    DeKalb County Police Department
8)    Glynn County District Attorney’s Office
9)    Glynn County Sheriff’s Office
10)    Jasper County Sheriff’s Office
11)    Liberty County Sheriff’s Office
12)    McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office
13)    Polk County Police Department
14)    Warner Robins Police Department
15)    Woodstock Police Department
16)    US Secret Service
17)    Federal Bureau of Investigation
18)    Homeland Security Investigations

The proactive on-line investigation was a coordinated effort among the participating law enforcement agencies to combat this activity.  GBI Special Agent in Charge, and Commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Debbie Garner stated, "This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them.  This successful operation was a partnership between all the agencies involved.”  Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering stated, "The children in our community need people to keep them safe.  We will be their guardian angels.  We will look out for them.”

The following were arrested and charged in Glynn County as part of “Operation Riptide”:

1.    Kenneth Dwayne Baker, W/M, from Waynesville, GA,  24 years of age, occupation -HVAC worker
2.    Christopher Oquendo Martinez, H/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 24 years of age, occupation - construction worker
3.    Donald Ray Sheffield, W/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 58 years of age, occupation - truck driver
4.    Sanjeev Hansraj Seenath, A/M, from Jacksonville, FL, 25 years of age, occupation - pharmacy student
5.    Rigoberto Margarito Hernandez, H/M, from Brunswick, GA, 21 years of age, occupation - construction
6.    Andrew Chase Lowe, W/M, 19 years of age, from St. Mary’s, GA, occupation - landscaper
7.    John Robert Schmidt, W/M, 36 years of age, from Jacksonville, FL, occupation - food & beverage manager
8.    Samuel M. Lee, A/M, 26 years of age, from St. Mary’s, GA, occupation - defense contractor
9.    Michael Morrow Foley, W/M, 52 years of age, from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, occupation - driver
10.    Ulbio Quijije, H/M, 26 years of age, from Kingsland, GA, occupation - self employed
11.    Andrew Paul Stawniczy, W/M, 25 years of age, from Orange Park, FL, occupation - tire store employee
12.    Bryant Keith Taylor, W/M, 35 years of age, from Brunswick, GA, occupation - truck driver
13.    Armando Modesto-Sevilla, H/M, 22 years of age, from Waycross, GA, occupation - agricultural worker
14.    Joshua Adam Bullard, W/M, 19 years of age, from Kings Bay, GA, occupation - US Navy
15.    Aaron Wayne Jacobs, W/M, 27 years of age, Waynesville, GA, occupation – EMT/Fireman
16.    Antwan Levar Polite, B/M, 26 years of age, Hinesville, GA, occupation – restaurant employee/student
17.    Kevin Scott Kerr, W/M, 48 years of age, St. Paul, MN, occupation – commodities trader/news contributor
18.    Troy Austin Piano, W/M, 23 years of age, Jacksonville, FL, occupation – self employed

The US Secret Service polygraphed eight (8) of those arrested during Operation Riptide.  All of those polygraphed gave admissions related to the offense for which they were arrested. Several of those arrested admitted to engaging in similar online activity in the past.  Some admitted to viewing child pornography and to previous sexual contact with children.  They identified six (6) previous victims of molestation.  One offender arrived with drug related items packaged for sale.  Additionally, multiple phones and digital devices were seized.  Those devices will be processed and analyzed and additional charges may be filed after reviewing the results of that analysis.

The Georgia ICAC Task Force is comprised of 200+ local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies and prosecutor’s offices.  The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U. S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases.

This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level.  The Georgia ICAC Task Force made 244 arrests in 2015 and has made over 1,600 arrests since its inception in 2002.

- Submitted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation

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