Two former students at Dade County (Georgia) High School have been arrested in connection with a child pornography scandal in the Dade County Schools system.
Dade County Sheriff Ray Cross announced at a news conference Wednesday the two men who were arrested were "prime suspects."
Because of the sensitive nature of the case and to not jeopardize further information, Cross said he and federal investigators are not releasing the names of those arrested.
Cross did say the two suspects are serving in the military but their location couldn't be released. The men attended Dade County High School within the last 10 years and are in their mid- to-late 20s.
In December, the Dade County Sheriff's Office and Trenton Police Department announced they were investigating the trading of sexually explicit photos at Dade County High School.
Cross and Trenton police Chief Christy Smith said at the time that as many as 50 adults and minors might be the victims of a group of people trading sexually explicit photos.
The number of victims came from search warrants that were issued. The photos are of both adults and minors, Cross said.
He said the federal investigation has been delayed due to travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
Cross also pushed back at criticism he said he has seen on social media toward local law enforcement.
"I've heard on some of the social media sites that we are trying to sweep this under the rug. I can assure you this is not being swept under the rug. This has been an ongoing investigation," he said. "By no means would the sheriff's office or Trenton Police Department hide anything in an investigation, especially when it involves children."
"These people involved in this, the perpetrators, I want them arrested, I want them in jail, whether it's state, local or federal prison," Cross said. "I want them going there if they harmed one of these children."
Cross and Smith said at the news conference that local authorities are helping out on the victims' side of the investigation, while federal authorities are handling the criminal investigation.
"We are a small community so most people know everyone here," Cross said. "Of course that could be a good thing or a bad thing. I know that all of our hearts go out to the victims especially."
Smith said some of the victims were students when her kids went to school and said she and other law enforcement officers were familiar with some of the names.
"It was real heartbreaking and a surprise," Cross said. "The fact that we are unable to get justice, an immediate justice, it is frustrating for us."
People with knowledge of the explicit photos are encouraged to contact law enforcement at 706-657-4167 or 706-657-3233.
Contact Patrick Filbin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.