More than 100 child predators were arrested earlier this month under charges of abuse and child exploitation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) collaborated with foreign partners to conduct phase seven “Operation Protected Childhood (OPC VII).
The international collaboration resulted in the arrest of 113 suspected child predators throughout the United States and South America between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6.
The five-year-long covert operation worked to identify both the distributors and producers of child sexual abuse material in North and South America. Such targeting enabled investigators to identify and locate suspects.
— ICE (@ICEgov) November 12, 2020
Multiple ICE and HSI domestic field offices worked together with the agency’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3), the Brazil Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), the Secretariat for Integrated Operation (SEOPI) Cyber Laboratory, and law enforcement offices in Argentina, Brazil, Panama, and Paraguay.
”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,” ICE Attaché for Brazil and Bolivia, Robert Fuentes Jr., said in a public statement on Thursday.
“Thank you to our Brazilian partners for their unwavering efforts over the last five years to combat child exploitation through Operation Protected Childhood. And to our partners who have most recently joined our operation, we look forward to the continued fight and relentless effort to put a stop to this horrific crime.”
In March 2015, HSI Brazil teamed up with Brazil’s MJSP Cyber lab to launch OPC. Since then, HSI and its partners have initiated several OPC phases that helped expand the operation and involve law enforcement agencies in several different countries.
Such international cooperation led to the success of OPC VII. During this phase, HSI offices in California, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Tennessee also worked together to combine 13 different search warrants related to child exploitation, leading to nine arrests for child exploitation offenses.
Simultaneously, Brazilian authorities and other international law enforcement partners mirrored these enforcement actions in Argentina, Panama, and Paraguay, leading to 104 additional arrests.
The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators or any suspicious situation to the toll-free hotline: 1-866-DHS-2ICE.
Anyone who suspects child sexual exploitation or a missing child can report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or submit a tip online.
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