*Hat Tip: Phillip King
Two Jefferson County men are under arrest as part of a five-day operation aimed at child predators.
ALEA’s Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force on Monday evening announced charges against Michael Glenn Rich, 56, of Birmingham, and Thomas Morrison Hart J., 46, of Adamsville. Their arrests were part of Operation Standing Guard II, which began on Nov. 13 in the Birmingham area, said Lt. Brook Walker, ICAC commander and commander of ALEA’s Special Victims Unit.
Rich is charged with three counts of possession of child pornography. Hart is charged with charged with five counts of possession of child pornography. Hart was arrested Nov. 15, and released from jail the following day. Rich was arrested Nov. 16, and released from jail the same day.
At least a dozen area law enforcement agencies took part in the operation: ALEA’s SVU and Tactical Unit, Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Birmingham Police Department, Bessemer Police Department, Homewood Police Department, Moody Police Department, Pelham Police Department, Gardendale Police Department, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Alabama Police Department’s Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force.
During the five-day initiative, ICAC seized 100 electronic devices, carried out eight search warrants, identified 22 children that were being sexually exploited through social media, and initiated two sexual assault cases. In addition, Alabama ICAC Task Force collaborated with the Georgia ICAC Task Force. Georgia’s ICAC task force conducted Operation Hidden Guardian for five days, overlapping their operation dates to have the maximum results in both states, Walker said. The Georgia ICAC Task Force arrested 21 suspects, with seven cases involving Alabama citizens who traveled to Columbus, Ga., with the expectation of having sex with a child.
“Communicating with our sister state and combining all levels of resources that Alabama and Georgia have allows us to maximize our efforts in both states to combat those who stop at nothing to prey on our children,” Walker said.
ICAC in May conducted Operation Standing Guard in Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair counties. That three-day operation resulted in six warrants being served, five individuals being arrested, and four child victims being identified. The operations target individuals who communicate online with minors and travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex, individuals who are willing to exploit minors by purchasing sex with them and individuals who produce, possess and/or distribute child pornography.
“We completed a tremendous amount of work to clean up the Birmingham area, closing out almost 40 cases of child exploitation,” Walker said. “And, thanks to our team approach, this detail and others like it are a success.”