On Aug. 20 and 21, Ashe County Sheriffs, along with U.S. Marshals and neighboring Alleghany County Sheriffs conducted a thorough search of sex offenders in the two counties as part of Operation Child Safe.
According to a press release by the ACSO, four people from Ashe County were arrested in the operation. They are: Larry Elliott, 67, of Lansing and James Osborne, 74, of Creston for possession of a firearm by a felon, and Danny Matkins, 26, of Fleetwood and Charles Taylor, 35, of Jefferson for parole violation.
Those who were arrested in the operation were later released.
Ashe County Sheriff James Williams said he was pleased with the operation’s results.
“We do random checks and require our sex offenders to check in periodically,” he said.
The operation was funded by a grant given to the sheriff’s departments covering the overtime costs and equipment related to taking part in the search, which was more extensive than typical searches done.
“This is the most thorough check that we have ever done,” Williams said. “We will be doing it again.”
According to the press release, police seized 22 guns in Ashe County, as well as ammunition, pornography and drugs. Additional weapons and materials were found in Alleghany County.
Williams said the number of sex offenders in violation of the law was relatively low.
“By and large, most sex offenders in our county were compliant,” he said. “We did not have any major problems.”
The searches were done under the Adam Walsh Act, which requires officers to track down sex offenders and verify their information, according to the press release.
There are four open investigations that could lead to future charges, according to the ACSO.
Williams said that searches such as these should remind parents to always be looking out for their children.
“With the way things are these days, it seems like we get more and more reports of child sex abuse,” he said. “We advise people to never leave their children alone with not just strangers, but people they know. It seems like you can’t trust anybody. You never know what’s in somebody’s mind and heart.”