From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — Two alleged child predators have been arrested in the Birmingham area after a five-day operation conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies.
Michael Glenn Rich, 56, of Birmingham was charged with three counts Possession of Child Pornography, and Thomas Morrison Hart Jr., 46, of Adamsville was charged with five counts of Possession of Child Pornography, said Lt. Brooke Walker, commander of the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as well as the commander of the Special Victims Unit (SVU) of the State Bureau of Investigation, which is part of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, according to a release.
Operation Standing Guard II, as the undertaking was known, was an ICAC Task Force detail that began Monday, Nov. 13, in the Birmingham area.
At least a dozen area law enforcement agencies participated in the detail: ALEA’s SVU and Tactical Unit, Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Walker County Sheriff’s Office, Birmingham Police Department, Bessemer Police Department, Homewood Police Department, Moody Police Department, Pelham Police Department, Gardendale Police Department, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office and the University of Alabama Police Department’s Joint Electronic Crimes Task Force.
During the five-day detail Alabama ICAC Task Force seized 100 electronic devices, executed eight search warrants, identified 22 children that were being sexually exploited through social media, and initiated two sexual assault cases. In addition, Alabama ICAC Task Force collaborated with the Georgia ICAC Task Force. Georgia’s ICAC task force conducted Operation Hidden Guardian for five days, overlapping their operation dates to have the maximum results in both states.
The Georgia ICAC Task Force arrested 21 suspects, with seven cases involving Alabama citizens who traveled to Columbus, Ga., with the expectation of having sex with a child.
“Communicating with our sister state and combining all levels of resources that Alabama and Georgia have allows us to maximize our efforts in both states to combat those who stop at nothing to prey on our children,” said Walker.
Alabama’s ICAC task force conducted Operation Standing Guard in May in Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair Counties. That three-day operation resulted in six warrants being served, five individuals being arrested and four child victims being identified. Such details target individuals who communicate online with minors and travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex, individuals who are willing to exploit minors by purchasing sex with them and individuals who produce, possess and/or distribute child pornography.
Walker said the results from the latest operation made five extremely long days worth it.
“We completed a tremendous amount of work to clean up the Birmingham area, closing out almost 40 cases of child exploitation. And, thanks to our team approach, this detail and others like it are a success,” she said.