COVINGTON, Ga. — A Newton County man is free on bond after he was caught in a task force that tried to rid northeast Georgia of men trying to meet children for sex.
Michael Lovell Turner, 46, was one of nine men arrested over the weekend as part of a joint task force looking into adults who try to meet children for sex.
Operation End Game was a three-day effort centered in Athens. Debbie Garner, a special agent in charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said the arrests were the effort of several months of planning.
The men, ranging in ages from 19 to 53, allegedly traveled from around northeast Georgia with the intention of meeting a child for sex.
Turner, of 431 Kirkland Road, Apartment 3213, Covington, was booked into the Athens-Clarke County Jail at 3:02 a.m. Saturday.
The GBI said the goal was to arrest people who communicate with children online and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex. Over the course of the operation, more than 25 cases were established that met the threshold for arrests, and nine actually ended with arrests.
The men were arrested on charges of the use of a computer service to seduce, solicit or lure a child to commit an illegal act, and booked into the Athens-Clarke County Jail early Saturday morning.
- Morgan Kelby Andrews, 27, of Maxeys, was booked at 3:43 a.m. Saturday.
- Joseph Kelly, 44, of Statham, was booked at 2:40 a.m. Saturday.
- James Morriss Jr., 49, of Dacula, was booked at 4:37 a.m. Saturday.
- Andrew Leo Schafer, 53, of Winder, was booked at 2:37 a.m. Saturday.
- Deointe Lelane Sims, 25, of Athens, was booked at 2:35 a.m. Saturday.
- Fredrick Lamar Smith, 29, of Royston, was booked at 3:19 a.m. Saturday.
- Zachary Dane Turner, 19, of Colbert, was booked at 5:11 a.m. Saturday.
- Noe A. Villafuerte, 44, of Winterville, was booked at 3:10 a.m. Saturday.
Each suspect was released after posting $5,000 bond.
GBI officials said one of the suspects was a convicted murderer who had completed his sentence. One was arrested in possession of firearms and a machete.
Thirteen cellphones were seized as evidence, said Garner, who is the commander of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
The FBI, GBI Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, Georgia ICAC Task Force, Athens-Clarke County Police Department, U.S. attorney’s office out of Macon and Athens-Clarke district attorney’s office coordinated the effort. Also taking part were the GBI – Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center; Alpharetta, Floyd County, Gwinnett County, Lilburn, Polk County and Savannah police departments; and Clarke County, Forsyth County and Hall County sheriff’s offices.
“This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them,” Garner said.
“This successful operation was a true partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”