CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Three Charlotte men accused of sexually exploiting minors online have been taken into police custody.
A tip from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led police to Jared Smith, 31. The agency alerted CMPD’s Cyber Crimes Unit to inappropriate photos uploaded to the internet. Detectives say they collected enough evidence to obtain a warrant for Smith, a registered sex offender. Smith turned himself into police Tuesday.
The Cyber Crimes Unit conducts undercover investigations into illegal pornographic material online. Detectives say they also arrested two other suspects based on other recent investigations.
Police arrested Paul Baalerud, 54, on Jan. 10 on three counts of second-degree and three counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
They took 43-year-old Paul Knapen on Jan. 17. He faces six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
Police allegedly discovered several images and photos of child pornography belonging to both men.
The FBI and SBI assisted with the investigations.