Editor’s Note: The video has been removed from the original version.
The story has been clarified to better explain how local law enforcement is using NCMEC tip system.
GARVIN COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been nearly a year since Garvin County’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was formed.
The sheriff and investigators said they’re seeing an alarming trend in their rural community.
“You’re going to be surprised at some of the things that we found out,” said Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullet.
“This has opened up our eyes to how much really goes on behind the scenes that we don’t even get reported to us,” said Deputy Athena Miles.
Sheriff Mullet, Deputy Miles, and other Garvin County investigators have been working numerous child pornography, exploitation, and trafficking cases after forming the ICAC Task Force in July of 2021.
The team uses a service through NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Internet companies, social media platforms, search engines, and internet users can report tips to the non-profit organization. If there’s a crime in Garvin County, NCMEC generates a cyber tip and contacts the ICAC Task Force
“It’s not a good trend. It’s not a good look for our county and what’s going on,” said Sheriff Mullet.
In a rural county with only 30,000 people, the sheriff said the numbers are staggering.
Just in the past year, Garvin County received 23 online cases from the dark web-scanning software. Those cases led investigators all over the state and country. Some even led deputies around the world to Germany, the Czech Republic, and India.
“We’re not surprised anymore by who’s actually doing this,” said the sheriff.
Now that they’re roped into this specific crime-fighting community, Garvin County also received 11 direct reports and tips on internet crimes.
“People are calling us going, ‘Hey, you might want to look into so-and-so,’ when it hasn’t hit the ICAC yet,’ said Mullet.
Through investigating, deputies also uncovered 14 child crimes with no internet connections, including lewd acts, rape, and sexual assault.
“And these aren’t easy cases,” said Sheriff Mullet. “You got to look at tons and tons of stuff here through phones and Internet cloud and computers. And I mean it’s very disturbing, very disturbing.”
Deputy Miles said the recent uptick means her role at the Sheriff’s Office is changing.
“It’s taken up my entire caseload, is that I don’t work anything else now because of it,” Deputy Miles said.
“Our mission here at the sheriff’s office is to tackle this and not sweep it under the rug. And if we’ve got to hit it head on, that’s what we’re doing,” said Sheriff Mullet.
Sheriff Mullet told KFOR there are a few cases that are coming close to being public.
“It’s coming, it’s coming. As of right now, we’ve got three major high priority cases just in April,” said the sheriff. “Those are high priority. But, there’s going to be some that’s going to come down. It’s going to blow you away.”
If you’d like to submit a NCMEC tip, call 1-800-THE-LOST or go to report.cybertip.org