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Seven Arrested in Northern Wisconsin Child Enticement Cases

WAUSAU, Wis. (Channel 3000) - A two-day undercover operation in Marathon County last week led to the arrests of seven men on suspicion of child enticement and other crimes, officials said.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Department said the Operation KG-2 Initiative took place Thursday and Friday with law enforcement officers from the Wausau and Everest Metro police departments along with sheriff's deputies.

The sheriff's department said the undercover operation sought to arrest people who were exploiting children using the Internet. The men who face charges had arranged to meet a 15-year-old girl.

Jacob Smith, 39, of Neillsville, was arrested on suspicion of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.

Christopher Kathamegos, 29, of Tomahawk, was arrested on suspicion of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, possession of drug paraphernalia and child enticement.

Richard Ross, 34, of Marathon, was arrested on suspicion of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.

Bret Harftvedt, 26, of Schofield, was arrested on suspicion of child enticement.

Griffin Waldinger, 29, of Wausau, was arrested on suspicion of child enticement.

Jason P. Weise, 41, of Marshfield, was arrested on suspicion of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.

Charles R. Howland, 24, of Wausau, was arrested on suspicion of use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office said the Internet Crimes Against Children initiative was developed in response to the increasing number of children using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and heightened online activity by predators seeking unsupervised contact with children.

The sheriff's department said the operation last week was a "proactive, online investigation relating to the exploitation of children through the use of online personal advertisements targeting online predators who solicit children for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct."

The seven men are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday at 2 p.m., the sheriff's department said.

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