Seventeen children were recovered as part of a multi-state sting that targeted people who distributed child pornography, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

"Operation Southern Impact III" netted 82 arrests across 8 southeastern states, according to a GBI release.

In Georgia, there were 31 arrests. Most of those arrests involved the possession and/or distribution of child pornography. Seven of those arrested had traveled to meeting a minor to have sex, the GBI said. 

Some included violent sexual abuse of infants and toddlers.

"It's not uncommon at all for us to find children in the homes of people who are collecting and viewing child pornography and it's not uncommon for them to be victims of that person," said GBI Special Agent in Charge Debbie Garner.

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Sarah Koeppen, the executive director of the Hope Box, a non-profit that provides resources for parents and children under the age of 3 who are victims of crimes such as sex trafficking, explained what those victims can look like 

"It can be the child of a relative, who is brought up to think that's normal," Koeppen said. "It can be a foster child, it can be someone who was brought in from out of state or out of the country."

Koeppen explains the images are sold online using animal code names

"[For instance] 'I'd like a 3-month-old black lab,'" Koppen said. "The youngest case we know of in Georgia was 3 months old."

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Of those arrested in Operation Southern Impact III, seven thought they were traveling to Georgia to have sex with children. They were really talking to undercover agents. Four were registered sex offenders, and 32 were already under supervision for committing other sex crimes 

One had been arrested during a similar GBI sting in 2015, officials said. 

FULL LIST: 31 arrested in Georgia in Operation Southern Impact III child sex sting

Other states that took part in the operation included Alabama, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.  

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