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Tackling crimes against children and human trafficking; LCSO unveils details of two undercover operations

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jan 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 08:10:36-05
  • Operation Firewall and Operation Grinch addressed internet crimes against children and human trafficking.
  • Experts say they have seen increases in these cases with the rise of social media.
  • Watch the video to find out how local, state, and federal agencies protecting our community and why knowing about these operations could be life saving.


Local, state, and federal agencies have been tackling internet crimes against children, prostitution, and human trafficking in our community.

Leon County Sheriff's Office just gave a big update on that mission.

They're providing a clearer picture of how they charged 16 people and how their work is helping improve the safety of our community.

"Make sure citizens in Leon County and surrounding communities understand how insidious these crimes are in our community," said Sheriff Walt McNeil, while talking about internet crimes against children, human trafficking, and prostitution.

Thursday, the Leon County Sheriff's Office revealed the results of two successful undercover operations that were carried out over 6 months

Operation Firewall saw detectives go undercover to find out people how were engaging in conversations with minors.

Operation Grinch was a "john" operation with a goal to combat the demand of human trafficking.

They resulted in the arrests of 16 people.

Their charges including solicitation for prostitution and attempted human trafficking.

"These operations take a lot of folks, lot of moving parts, lot of entities within the other divisions of the agency," said Sergeant Shade McMillian.

McMillian said the sheriff's office led the operation.

It's an example of collaboration between local, state, and federal agencies.

"A huge think tank, so when you can bring everyone together for one person, the success rate goes exponentially higher," said McMillian.

Sergeant Tyler Epstein, over the Internet crimes Against Children unit, said the support from partner agencies, civilian support personal, and community partners for Operation Firewall has been appreciated because he has seen the number of these types of crimes increase.

The explosion of the internet and social media, and all the different applications individuals can get on, particularly our children," said Epstein.

He said that's why it's important to get their word about law enforcement efforts.

"If our members of our community that are preying on children know that we are actively looking for them, hopefully that will curb some of their activity, said Epstein.

He said that's why parents must interact with their children.

"Talk to them about the dangers of the internet and that there are predators out there that will look to harm them," said Epstein.

Sheriff McNeil said they will probably be making requests through the budgeting process for additional people because this problem is extremely detrimental to our community.