NEWS

3 more arrested, 3 wanted in online predator operation, says Lexington County Sheriff’s Department

Investigators continue to pursue charges against men targeted in a monthlong operation featuring messages exchanged with law enforcement officers posing as minors on social media apps.

Seventeen arrests were announced last month after an online operation that included more than a dozen law enforcement agencies. Officers pretended to be underage teenagers as suspects messaged them through apps.

Individuals arrested since the initial announcement include:

Thomas Hall, 26, Leesville – criminal solicitation of a minor

Wilton McMillan, 45, Simpsonville, South Carolina – criminal solicitation of a minor

Mark Winchell, 49, Savannah, Georgia – attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18, criminal solicitation of a minor, and sexual exploitation of a minor

“Three men are still wanted on charges associated with the operation,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “We encourage anyone who knows where these men are, or where we might be able to find them, to call Crimestoppers at 888- 274-6372 or use the Crimestoppers app to share that information with us anonymously.”

Koon said the three men still wanted in connection with the online operation are:

Michael Alexander Najera, 23, Brevard, North Carolina – criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18 and sexual exploitation of a minor

Hampton Craig Short, 30, Charlotte, North Carolina – criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18

Steven Leslie Wright, 49, Holiday, Florida – criminal solicitation of a minor, attempted dissemination of obscene material to a person under 18 and sexual exploitation of a minor

“Wright has a Florida address, but we have information indicating he might be in Liberty, South Carolina, in Pickens County,” Koon said. “He’s a previous sex offender who has failed to stay current with our state’s sex offender registry.”