28 child predators arrested, 19 children rescued following Montgomery Co. investigation: authorities

More than two dozen people were arrested and 19 children were rescued following a months-long Montgomery County operation targeting the distribution of child sexual abuse material online, authorities say.

According to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Operation Hydra resulted in the arrest and charging of 28 people with crimes related to the sexual exploitation of children.

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Authorities say the defendants are from 17 states and made child sexual abuse material available in Montgomery County.

During the operation, the DA’s office says, detectives were also able to rescue 19 children who had been sexually abused or exploited.

As part of the operation, detectives with the Montgomery County division of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force monitored chat groups on social media for 12 months.

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The defendants participated in groups chats that were dedicated to distributing child sexual abuse material, and most of them posted illicit images to the groups, the DA’s office says. Some of them allegedly acted as administrators of the groups and controlled who could access them.

Detectives worked with authorities in other jurisdictions to apprehend the defendants.

"This operation is a stark reminder of the realities of child sexual exploitation and the proliferation of child sexual abuse material on the internet, and the need for proactive measures to address these crimes against our children," the DA’s office said in a news release.

Officials say the operation was spearheaded by the Montgomery County Pct. 1 Constable’s Office and the DA’s Office, along with support from the Montgomery County Constables’ Offices, Precinct 2, Precinct 3, Precinct 4 and Precinct 5, the Conroe Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.