Sex offenders target of operation

CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) - U.S. Marshals and other federal agencies are cracking down on sex offenders in North Carolina and South Carolina in what they're calling Operation Carolina Shield.

The Horry County Sheriff's Office partnered with the United States Marshals Service to verify the compliance of 432 registered sex offenders living in Horry County. This initiative involved the physical verification of each sex offender's address and other identifying information.

The four day operation ended Thursday morning.

Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson and U.S. Marshal Kelvin Washington consider the effort a success. Both say the safety of the community and enforcing the law were motivating factors.

"Mainly to protect our most valuable resource which is our children and we want to know where these folks are, the community has a right to know where these people are," explains Washington.

Thompson adds, "I just think it's very important that the citizens understand where our offenders are living and have the information necessary and what their charges are, who they are and their photographs."

Horry County was targeted because the Myrtle Beach area attracts a transient community. The joint venture landed two men in jail.

Last week, David Knight, 39, was arrested in Longs. Officials say he is wanted out of Massachusetts for failing to register as a sex offender and fled here. Knight violated the federal Adam Walsh Act enforced by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Wednesday, police arrested Walter Eugene Johnson as part of the operation after he barricaded himself in a home in Little River.

Out of 432 offenders, 13 were non compliant. The Sheriff's Office is working on warrants for them.

Sheriff Thompson says the extra manpower helped speed up the process, "We were able to accomplish in one weeks time what would take us months to accomplish doing it the normal way. So it was a great help for us in that area."

This weeks checks were in addition to the verification process that already happens twice a year for some offenders and every 90 days for others.

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