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Child Porn Bust Rescues Over 100 Children



The victims ranged in age from less than 1 to 17 years old. Morton said 44 of the victims were living with their accused abusers.

More than 100 children have been rescued from the clutches of pedophiles after a massive U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency raid.

The ground-breaking investigation – named ‘Operation Sunflower’ – was executed America-wide between November 2012 and the first week of December, and resulted in 245 arrests.

A total of 123 sexually exploited children were identified by ICE agents working with Homeland Security Investigations by targeting people who own, trade and produce child pornography.

Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) launched Operation Sunflower in November 2012 to commemorate the one-year anniversary in which the identification of a sunflower-shaped highway road sign led to the rescue of an 11-year-old girl in Kansas. Operation Sunflower was executed through the first week of December 2012, but victim identification and rescue efforts continue under HSI’s Operation Predator.

“The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Whenever our investigations reveal the production and distribution of new child pornography online, we will do everything we can to rescue the victim and prosecute the abuser even if takes us years or around the world to do it. A relentless fight against child exploitation is the only answer.”

HSI and partner law enforcement agencies arrested 245 individuals during the operation, which took place Nov. 1 to Dec. 7. Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.

Of the 123 victims identified during Operation Sunflower: five were under the age of 3, nine were ages 4 to 6; 21 were ages 7 to 9; 11 were ages 10 to 12; 38 were ages 13 to 15; and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.

HSI victim assistance specialists, located in offices around the country, provide direct assistance to victims and families, and work with both child and adult victims to provide referrals for services and resources in their area. The specialists remain involved during the investigation and often beyond the sentencing of the perpetrator.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at  1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline,  1-800-THE-LOST.

 

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