The US Customs and Immigration announced that at least 113 child predators have been arrested in five days of sting operations across the United States, South America, and Panama.
The arrests were made with the assistance of ICE’s international counterparts from November 2 to November 6 as part of Operation Protected Childhood.
The operation targets people who distribute and produce child sexual abuse content in the Americas.
“This collaborative effort by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and its foreign law enforcement partners has put dangerous criminals behind bars and, most importantly, has led to the rescue of innocent children,” said ICE Attaché for Brazil and Bolivia, Robert Fuentes Jr.
Around 196 child exploitation-related search warrants were approved for the operation, which was also backed by the Brazil Ministry of Justice and the Public Security Secretariat for Integrated Operation Cyber Laboratory.
Homeland Security Investigations [HSI] authorities were given 13 child exploitation-related search warrants and executed nine arrests in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, and Florida.
On November 6, HSI agents in Raleigh, North Carolina, joined forces with the Cary Police Department to execute a federal arrest warrant of a male individual on charges of ‘production, transportation, and possession of child pornography.’
The investigators discovered hundreds of child pornography images, including several naked photos of the man’s children.
On November 5th, HSI agents from the Panama City, Florida, field office, and the Lynn Haven Police Department raided a home after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children informed authorities after the target of the investigation shared child pornography photos through the Facebook Messenger app.
The person was detained for possession of child exploitative material. Two others were arrested for drug possession.
ICE reported that HSI agents in Brazil processed137 warrants and made 74 arrests while HSI Buenos Aires agents carried out 37 warrants and 23 arrests.
The field office in Panama City served seven child exploitation related search warrants and produced five arrests, while agents in Paraguay were granted two warrants and executed two arrests.
Operation Protected Childhood has initiated in 2015 by HSI Brazil with the backing of Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and the Public Security Secretariat’s Cyber Lab to elevate ‘the effectiveness of online child exploitation investigations.’
The operation eventually led to almost 781 arrests and dozens of children victims rescued.