Child Exploitation Horror in Georgia’s Forsyth County

The police action named “Operation Masquerade” was a “multi-agency law enforcement operation conducted last weekend in Forsyth County to target and arrest “individuals who engage in online child exploitation and solicit minors for sexual purposes.” Several law enforcement agencies participated in this collaborative effort, including “the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Alpharetta Police Department, the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

The three-day operation “successfully apprehended 11 individuals” on an array of charges related to child exploitation. Examples of the breadth of the criminal charges brought against some or all of these alleged predators included “Computer Crime: Illegal Solicitation, Enticement or Seduction of a Minor, and Trafficking of Persons for Labor or Sex.”

Some of the identified arrested people were Carlos Ortiz-Penado, also known as “Rafael,” a 37-year-old resident of Gainesville; Salvador Alejandro Vazquez, alias “Salva,” a 33-year-old individual from Lawrenceville; Erick Rafael Garban-Ochoa, a 31-year-old resident of Stone Mountain; and Peter Heintz, a 39-year-old resident of Marietta. The names of all those arrested can be found here.

Reporting informs that in addition to the 11 arrests made, “law enforcement officials have pending warrants for the arrest of five more individuals on charges related to Obscene Internet Contact with a Minor.”

Background information discloses that Operation Masquerade is the “second operation of its kind conducted in Forsyth County.” A similar police action named Operation Just Cause was conducted in 2019, “which resulted in the arrest of 24 individuals for similar charges.” Operation Just Cause seems to have been successful, for all the “24 people arrested have either pled guilty or were convicted of their respective offenses.”

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman is quoted as saying, with satisfaction: “Endanger our children in Forsyth County and you will find out what jail and no bond looks like.” Freeman expressed his pride in his Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and acknowledged his appreciation for “the unwavering support of our partner agencies during this operation.” In a warning, Freeman urged parents “to monitor their children’s online activities and remain vigilant against potential online predators.”

D & B Staff

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Episode 201