Investigation that began in North Carolina has global impact in fight against child exploitation

Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

“Protecting children is a high calling,” said U.S. Attorney Matt Martin in a statement released by the Department of Justice. “The Boone Police Department, the NC SBI, and the Department of Homeland Security are answering the call. The excellent proactive work of the investigators in this case has undoubtedly changed victims’ lives for the better and safeguarded others. I am proud that an investigation that began here in North Carolina has resulted in such a positive impact across the country, and even abroad. This case is an example of the effective local, state, and federal law enforcement partnerships required to fully combat online child sexual exploitation. Such partnerships are the heart of the Internet Crimes Against Children [ICAC] Task Force and more necessary now than ever as we have recently seen an alarming year-over-year increase in CyberTipline reports from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children [NCMEC]. It takes courage to confront depictions of unspeakable sexual abuse, often amounting to torture, in order to bring child sex offenders to justice. The investigators in this case deserve our deep gratitude.”


What began as a single detective gaining access to a Kik chat group in September 2018 has now resulted in the arrest of 25 individuals and the reported rescue of 8 children from situations where they were being abused. In total, 28 tips were sent from the Boon Police Department to other agencies across the globe concerning child exploitation.


"As an example, an Ohio man was quickly arrested and his 14 year-old daughter was rescued. He had been sexually abusing her for ten years. Another individual was arrested on an oil rig in the North Sea and his 5 year-old daughter was rescued," the release elaborates.


The first individual arrested in this matter was sentenced on September 2 to 65 months in prison with 10 years of supervised release.


34-year-old Dustin Davis Haynes of Lexington, North Carolina pleaded guilty on March 2, 2020 to one count of transportation of child pornography.  Haynes had been arrested within a matter of days of the detective gaining access to the chat group and admitted to using Kik to view and distribute child pornography according to The Dispatch.


"Haynes said that he has been attracted to children since he was approximately 13 years old," The Dispatch quotes court documents as stating.