YORK COUNTY, S.C. - Ten people police say tried to have sex with children have been arrested in York County as part of a weeks long online child exploitation operation in the area.
The York County Sheriff's Office says it can't give specifics about what was said, but it can tell us each of the suspects made connections with an officer through a social media app. Now the Sheriff's Office is thankful the suspects were talking to deputies not actual children.
"It's important to know they are everywhere," Sheriff Kevin Tolson said.
When it comes to the internet, you never truly know who's on the other side. For these ten suspects they thought they were speaking to a child, but it was actually a member of law enforcement.
"Getting these types of people off the streets is one of the most important tasks that law enforcement has. Just as we want our streets safe we want our internet safe," said Tolson.
The task force was a week-long operation, some of the suspects tried to meet to have sex with children at an undisclosed location in York County and were immediately arrested. Others allegedly sent or asked for pictures from people they thought were minors.
"This investigation led to the arrest of several people who were in a position of trust. They attempted to entice children and then tried to meet them to engage in illicit sexual activities," said Ronnie Martinez with Homeland Security.
These suspects have jobs that range from a construction worker to a professor. The Sheriff's Office says its operation serves as a reminder for parents to be vigilant with their children especially when it comes to the internet.
"It's extremely important to know what your children are doing. You don't know who the next person is that will be in that chat room or trying to contact your child,” said Sheriff Tolson.
Sheriff Tolson also had a reminder for those looking to do harm.
"To anyone out there thinking you can prey on the innocent. We are watching and we will find you."
The sheriff says the department is working to locate seven live victims uncovered during the investigation and he also believes more arrests could be coming.