State authorities Tuesday morning released details of a multi-agency investigation that resulted in five arrests in Hall County.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation described the operation as a four-day proactive effort targeting alleged online child predators.
"The goal of 'Operation Rattlesnake' was to arrest persons who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex," authorities stated in a GBI media release.
It began began last Thursday and was centered in Hall County, according to GBI Special Agent in Charge Debbie Garner. She manages the agency's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit and commands the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
"Hall County approached us wanting to do one of the operations because they're very proactive. There was not necessarily an indicator that there were more predators in Hall County or anything like that," Garner said.
Over the four days, investigators said they had nearly 300 chats on a variety of social media and online platforms.
"We are trying to find people online that are basically willing to exploit a child," Garner said. "They're willing to travel to have sex with a child. They're willing to discuss in detail sexual activities with a child. They will send pornography to children. Those types of things," Garner said.
The suspects were all charged under the Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.
Authorities identified them as Melo Hairapetian, 28, Morris, IL, Baribefe Monkpe, 23, of Lawrenceville, Anthony Jordan, 37, of Newnan, Drake Cook, 23, of Athens and James Herndon, 58, of Flowery Branch.
Hairapetian worked in construction. Cook was employed at a retail store, and Herndon worked as a pharmacist, according to the GBI. Authorities didn't know Monkpe's vocation. Jordan was listed as unemployed.
Hairapetian and Herndon were no longer in the Hall County Jail Tuesday afternoon. The remaining three suspects remained incarcerated, according to the online inmate population list.
The investigation was coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, the Hall County Sheriff's Office and the Hall County District Attorney's Office.
Agencies participating as members of task force included; the Brookhaven Police Department, Coweta County Sheriff's Office, Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Police Department, Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Hall County Solicitor's Office, Hall Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, LaGrange Police Department, Oakwood Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff's Office and Roswell Police Department.