KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Authorities said 21 people were arrested after a two-week sex trafficking investigation in West Virginia.
The United States Marshals and West Virginia State Police briefed the public on “Operation Just and Necessary” at the Federal Courthouse in Charleston Friday morning. Authorities said they conducted an eleven-day investigation targeting sex offenders.
Most of the arrests happened in Kanawha County, but others were made in surrounding areas, including a few out-of-state.
Officials said the charges varied from failure to register as a sex offender, soliciting minors, and possession of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Officials also said they found a firearm and over 60 combined grams of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
U.S. Marshal Michael Baylaus said the operation was about holding sex offenders accountable in the name of the safety and well-being of the community.
“The lawmakers in this country have decided that the public has the right to know about the sex offenders that are living in these communities,” Baylaus said. “As law enforcement, it’s our job to hold these folks accountable, to make sure they are given timely and accurate information.”
Newly appointed State Police Superintendent Jack Chambers was also in attendance and said that knowing sex offenders’ whereabouts in West Virginia is crucial for law enforcement.
“Sex offender compliance checks are very important,” Chambers said. “You’re not gonna find a trooper or marshal out there that doesn’t want to know where every sex offender is and is being accountable. We will hold them accountable the best we can, and that’s what these efforts are for.”
U.S. Marshals say they opened federal investigations into four non-compliant sex offenders who may be from out of state. They are being investigated for violating the Adam Walsh Act, which protects children from sexual exploitation and violence.