SAUTEE NACOOCHEE, Ga. — On Thursday, Feb. 17, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit, with the assistance of the White County Sheriff’s Office, the GBI Cleveland field office, the GBI Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) unit, the GBI Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and the GBI’s Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office, executed two residential search warrants related to separate investigations pertaining to the Sexual Exploitation of Children.
The investigations began after the GBI CEACC Unit received independent and unrelated cybertips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Those cybertips involved the possession and/or distribution of explicit child sexual abuse material, commonly referred to as child pornography, which resolved to White County, GA.
As a result of the search warrant executions, the following individuals were arrested:
Richard Benton, age 57, of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia was charged with four counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Pornography).
Lazarus Smith, Jr., age 18, of Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia was charged with three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Pornography).
Benton and Smith, Jr. were transported to the White County Jail. Booking photos can be obtained from the White County Jail.
This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.
Anyone with information about these cases, or other cases of child exploitation, is asked to contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit at 404-270-8870. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.