New information has prompted special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in collaboration with the King County Prosecutor’s Office and the Mercer Island Police Department, to seek the public’s help in identifying potential victims in a child pornography investigation involving a local cheerleading coach.
In March 2018, 32-year-old Leonard Lewis (commonly known as Lenny Lewis, Jr.) was charged with state violations of possession of child pornography.
He has been employed as a coach at Tech Gymnastics and All Star Cheer in Woodinville, Washington. On previous occasions, Lewis also traveled internationally for employment as a cheerleading coach.
Lewis is a registered sex offender with convictions from 2012 for attempted possession of child pornography.
HSI’s Operation Predator is an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
(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.)
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.
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.
HSI is a worldwide leader in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
(Make it harder for predators to hide; download the Operation Predator app today from iTunes or Google Play. Courtesy of ICE .gov and YouTube)
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.