Fort Benning soldier among 3 suspects in court on sexual exploitation charges


By BEN WRIGHT | The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Tribune News Service) | Published: November 22, 2017

A Fort Benning soldier and two others facing sexual exploitation charges appeared in Recorder’s Court Tuesday, more than a week after 21 people were nabbed in “Operation Hidden Guardian.”

Derrick Smalls, a 38-year-old Fort Benning soldier from Phenix City, was charged with sexual exploitation of children while Austin Pierce, 26, of Phenix City and Ke Song, 24, of Auburn, Ala., each faces one count of sexual exploitation of children and trafficking a person for labor or sexual sacrifice.

The online undercover operation was centered in Columbus and coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, the Columbus Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office of the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

In addition to Columbus police, 12 other law enforcement agencies took part in “Operation Hidden Guardian,” as part of the Georgia ICAC Task Force. They included the local Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Athens-Clarke County Police Department; Floyd County Police Department; Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office; Hall County Sheriff’s Office; Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center; Glynn County Police Department; LaGrange Police Department; Marietta Police Department; Polk County Police Department and the Tallapoosa Police Department.

©2017 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)
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