Published: Dec 15, 2011 4:59 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested 48 child predators as part of a six-month investigation known as Operation Amalgamate. The investigation began in July after Attorney General Pam Bondi and FDLE merged the FDLE’s Computer Crime Center and the AG’s Child Predator Cybercrime Unit to more effectively investigate online child exploitation.

The merger created specialized units within FDLE focused on investigating internet sex crimes against juveniles.

“The arrests in Operation Amalgamate show the strength of what has become one team with one goal – to find and arrest internet predators attempting to victimize our children,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “Thanks to General Bondi’s leadership, the merger has allowed FDLE to expand its squads statewide.”

"We are committed to protecting our children from cybercrimes, and I commend the law enforcement community for their continued dedication to stopping these criminals from exploiting our children," stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Operation Amalgamate investigators found child sex predators in chat rooms, utilizing instant messaging, texting, dating sites, social networks and even online classified ads. FDLE agents in partnership with local law enforcement agencies arrested 48 suspects in 17 Florida counties.

“Operation Amalgamate clearly demonstrates a successful collaboration between local and state law enforcement to address this serious issue,” said President of the Florida Police Chief’s Association and Tampa International Airport Chief of Police Paul Sireci.

In addition to the arrests, FDLE assisted with nine local operations working with the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and others. FDLE also provided computer crime investigative training to more than 700 law enforcement officers and computer safety training for thousands of Florida citizens.

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