A 42-year-old North Charleston man traveled to Georgia hoping for sex with a small child last month but was arrested instead, the Effingham County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday.

Merle Singletary, 42, of North Charleston had downloaded and shared child pornography online and was charged with sexual exploitation of children, spokesman David Ehsanipoor said. Singletary traveled to Georgia on July 4 thinking he was going to have sex with a child and was met by a deputy instead, Ehsanipoor said.

The sting was part of a four-month investigation called Broken Candy. Investigators tracked men who had downloaded and shared child pornography, Ehsanipoor said.

Aaron Kreh, 36, of Savannah was also arrested and charged when he thought he was meeting somebody for child sex, deputies said.

David May, 59, Of Bloomingdale, Ga., Arterrius, Smith, 31, of Statesboro, Ga., and Richard Krohn, 40, of Guyton, Ga., were all arrested at their residences and charged after investigators carried out search warrants.

"When we target those who share child pornography online, we routinely uncover offenders who are sexually abusing children or stalking them," Ehsanipoor said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.