Every day, news reports detail the arrests of child predators and their horrific impact on innocent victims.
Child sexual and physical exploitation is exploding online, and law enforcement officials are using new tools to combat it.
With an estimated one million predators and only 6,000 specialized law enforcement officials’ worldwide dedicated to fighting child exploitation, agents are outnumbered.
(Learn More. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is developing advanced forensic tools and techniques that help DHS Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) rescue exploited children, track down child pornographers, and obtain convictions against child molesters worldwide. Courtesy of DHS Science and Technology Directorate and YouTube.)
Towards that end, thousands were arrested as a result of a months-long crime campaign conducted by 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces, located in all 50 states and comprised of more than 4,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, to specifically arrest suspects of online child sex crimes.
The campaign, labeled “Operation Broken Heart,” which ran from from March 1 through May 31, wrapped up last month, leading to more than 2,300 arrests nation-wide.
During the course of the operation, the task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children and delivered more than 3,700 presentations on Internet safety to over 390,000 youth and adults.
The task forces identified 195 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse, and 383 children who suffered recent, ongoing, or historical sexual abuse or production of child pornography.
“No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
“And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production.
“We at the Department of Justice are determined to strike back against these repugnant crimes.”
“It is shocking and very sad that in this one operation, we have arrested more than 2,300 alleged child predators and investigated some 25,200 sexual abuse complaints.”
“Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”
The operation targeted suspects who:
Produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography
Engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes
Engage in the sex trafficking of children, and
Travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children
The Washington Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), in collaboration with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Operation Predator, participated in Operation Broken Heart.
The operation identified individuals using peer-to-peer networks to share child pornography.
Over the course of the operation, the Washington ICAC Task Force conducted 51 investigations involving peer-to-peer networks resulting in 47 arrests.
HSI, as part of the WA task force, conducted 11 search and seizure warrants; made six federal arrests, four state arrests, and one state arrest pending military charges; and identified/rescued one minor victim.
The Washington ICAC Task Force also made 67 presentations to educate the public about child exploitation investigations, reaching nearly 4,000 people.
(Learn More. Law enforcement can more effectively collaborate to form a force multiplier of resources and capabilities in the ever-expanding global world of crime. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) bridges the gap. HSI has the ability to follow the “pipeline” and to proactively pursue the larger networks of illicit activities. HSI can serve as a force multiplier from anywhere domestic; from Minot, ND to New York City – to almost anywhere around the world with our international partners, either through the Transnational Criminal Investigative Units (TCIU’s) – which expand HSI’s footprint and enhance cooperation between partner nations and the United States – or through our 63 HSI International Attaché offices. State and Local law enforcement has the ability to leverage HSI’s unique legal authorities and global footprint to help combat crimes in their community; such as the growth and proliferation of transnational crimes and the rampant and far reaching cyber crimes – most notably, the darknet. Courtesy of The IACP and YouTube.)
Case examples include:
- HSI Seattle arrested Christopher Wood at his Mountlake Terrace, Washington, residence for possessing and distributing depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
- HSI Seattle, with assistance from the ICAC, executed a state search warrant at Wood’s residence.
- Images depicting child pornography were subsequently located on Wood’s digital media, and law enforcement discovered that Wood shared a bedroom with a potential female minor victim.
- Law enforcement coordinated with Child Protective Services and the HSI Seattle victim assistance specialist.
- HSI Seattle arrested Jeremy James Cherry, a registered sex offender, via federal complaint for possessing child pornography.
- HSI Seattle, with assistance from the King County Sheriff’s Office, executed a federal search warrant at Cherry’s residence in Auburn, Washington.
- Videos depicting child pornography were subsequently located on Cherry’s digital media.
(Learn More. Are you sure your kids know who they’re talking to online? If someone demands sexual images from you, stop immediately and report it. In this PSA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) explore the dangers of sharing images online. Courtesy of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and YouTube.)
- HSI Tacoma, with assistance from HSI Seattle, arrested Donald Delateur at his residence in Olympia, Washington, on federal receipt of child pornography charges.
- Delateur is a previously convicted registered sex offender.
- During the execution of the search warrant at Delateur’s residence, agents discovered child pornography on his computer.
- HSI Blaine special agents executed a state search warrant at the Anacortes, Washington, residence of Josh Robinson, and subsequently arrested Robinson for receipt of child pornography.
- This investigation was initiated by the Seattle Police Department who discovered Robinson was sharing child pornography files via the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing network.
- The police department transferred the investigation to HSI Blaine under Seattle ICAC Operation Broken Heart for further investigation.
- HSI Portland and task force officers arrested James Rolla at his Vancouver, Washington, residence on state possession of child pornography charges.
- A state search warrant was executed at Rolla’s residence, and images of child pornography were found on devices belonging to him.
The ICAC Program is funded through the Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), to help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems or computer technology to exploit children.
To date, ICAC Task Forces have reviewed more than 775,000 complaints of child exploitation, which resulted in the arrest of more than 83,000 individuals.
In addition, since the ICAC program’s inception, more than 629,400 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute ICAC-related cases.
To Learn More, visit the ICAC Task Force webpage at: https://www.icactaskforce.org/. For state-level Operation Broken Heart results, please contact the appropriate state ICAC task force commander.
Contact information for task force commanders are available online at: https://www.icactaskforce.org/Pages/ContactsTaskForce.aspx.
Homeland Security Investigations’ Operation Predator is an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.
In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI)
HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
HSI is a worldwide leader in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children.
Prior to the creation of the agency in 2003, legacy U.S. Customs special agents investigated the disbursement of illegal child pornography that was often sent by mail or purchased overseas.
With the advent of the Internet, the sharing and trading of child pornography now primarily occurs online.
In addition to the legacy expertise, HSI special agents also have the authority to investigate the illegal movement of people and goods across U.S. borders, and because the Internet is borderless, the sharing of contraband online is an international crime.
An image on the Web of a child being sexually abused can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world.
Operation Predator draws on the agency’s unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children.
And, with 200 U.S. offices and more than 70 offices overseas, HSI has the ability to follow a case – to rescue a victim or arrest a predator – wherever in the world it may lead.
(Learn More. ICE investigators expose Darknet criminals to the light. Courtesy of ICE .gov and YouTube)
As part of ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3), the CEIU uses cutting edge investigative techniques to bring justice to consumers, producers and distributors of child pornography, as well as to predators engaging in child sex tourism.
The efforts of the CEIU, in addition to ICE’s participation in national programs like Operation Predator and international partnerships like the Virtual Global Taskforce, have resulted in the rescue of thousands of children.
Collaborating with law enforcement partners around the country and the world, Operation Predator brings together an array of resources to target these child predators.
As part of the effort:
- HSI participates on all 61 Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces across the United States, which are led by state and local law enforcement agencies.
- HSI established a National Victim Identification Program at its Cyber Crimes Center, combining the latest technology with traditional investigative techniques to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation.
- HSI is the U.S. representative to the Interpol working group that locates new child sexual abuse material on the Internet and refers cases to the country that the abuse is believed to be occurring in for further investigation.
- Also, HSI special agents stationed internationally work with foreign governments, Interpol and others to enhance coordination and cooperation on crimes that cross borders.
- HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other federal agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children.
- HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, joining law enforcement agencies, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners around the world to fight child exploitation information and images that travel over the Internet.