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Seventeen men in South Carolina have been arrested for allegedly contacting children online for sexual activity, according to the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

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The sheriff’s department said more than a dozen law enforcement agencies worked together on a months-long operation targeting adults accused of the crime.

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Apart from the 17 people arrested as part of the operation, another person is wanted on charges stemming from the alleged exchange of messages with law enforcement officials posing as minors on the social media app.

“We, along with the Lexington Police Department and the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, served as host agencies for this operation,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Coon said in a press release. “The officers pretended to be underage teenagers as the suspects messaged them through apps. Some even had phone conversations with the officers. After the suspect asked to meet the ‘child’, they were arrested. The spies were staged at a pre-determined meeting place for.”

According to Coon, most of the messages contained explicit sexual language and images.

“The intentions of these suspects are clear during these communications,” Coon said. “They were trying to persuade, woo or coerce any person under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity.”

According to the press release, no children were used or put at risk during the operation.

“This operation is the result of strong relationships between law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels.” Kun said. “I would like to thank Attorney General Alan Wilson for providing members of his office for this operation as part of our continued commitment to local law enforcement.”

Coon said more arrests are expected as investigators pursue charges against other suspects identified during the operation.

The following persons were arrested and charged:

William Banks, 51, Liberty, South Carolina – Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, Attempted sexual assault of a minor, Attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18

Steven Bradley, 42, West Columbia – Two counts of attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor, illegal carrying of a handgun

Darin Bray, 40, Greenville, Illinois – Attempted to spread pornographic material to a person under 18, attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Kevin Carpenter, 26, Evergreen, North Carolina – Attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18, criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor

Brian Cates, 54, North Augusta, South Carolina – Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18

Geoffrey Dudding, 36, Charlotte – Conspiracy to commit criminal sexual conduct with a minor, criminal solicitation of a minor, sexual abuse of a minor, attempt to promote prostitution of a minor

Mark Frick, 54, Gaston – Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, Criminal solicitation of a minor

Care Fuwell, 23, Gloverville, South Carolina – Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18

Landon Gibson, 40, Simpsonville, South Carolina – Three counts of attempt to spread pornographic material to a person under the age of 18, criminal solicitation of a minor

Ken Hicks, 23, Darlington, South Carolina – Attempted sexual abuse of a minor

Walter Huggins, 45, Camden, South Carolina – Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted sexual abuse of a minor, attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18

David Jones, 51, Pelion – Attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor, Criminal solicitation of a minor, Sexual abuse of a minor

Willie Manning, 57, Winsboro, South Carolina – Criminal solicitation of a minor, sexual abuse of a minor

Joshua Paczowski, 21, Lexington – Criminal attempted sexual conduct with a minor, Criminal solicitation of a minor

Misael Quezada, 31, Blythewood – Criminal solicitation of a minor

Eric Setterberg, 54, Gadsden, South Carolina – attempted sexual abuse of a minor, attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor

Charles Templeton, 74, Gaston – Criminal solicitation of a minor, attempt to sexually exploit a minor, attempt to spread obscene material to a person under the age of 18