U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) just announced that its Homeland Security unit has busted 190 people — for child pornography. Eighteen victims were identified. It may seem odd that an immigration agency is getting involved in child pornography investigations, but the organisation says that the issue of child exploitation is relevant to its powers.
Trans-border, large-scale production and distribution of images of child abuse is rampant. And the truth is there are people who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors, points out ICE. The organisation has a number of missions, and cyber crime is one particular focus. It says today:
Arrests were made by HSI special agents and partner law enforcement agencies. The majority of arrests were made throughout the United States, but also included arrests in Spain, the Philippines, Argentina and the United Kingdom.
So Homeland Security is pushing borders.
It might strike some people that the FBI should be in charge of these kinds of investigations. The Bureau already has vast expertise and resources invested in undercover agents who stop child predators online.
Now, with the success of ICE’s child exploitation investigations, perhaps this is an indication that federal powers are branching out, or that law enforcement agencies are partnering more liberally and blending their missions.
“Let this operation be a warning to anyone who would think they can use the Internet to exploit children: we are out there looking for you, we will find you, and you will be prosecuted, said ICE director John Morton.
Investigations targeting such people fall under ICE’s “Operation Predator”, with agents infiltrating and collecting evidence online. They look at chat rooms, websites, and “peer-to-peer” trading.
Today’s announcement coincides with the beginning of the summer vacation season, when kids have more time to go online.
The efforts that went into the 190 arrests announced today took a month of investigating, from May 2 to 31.
You can see a sample of who was arrested, and what they did, listed here.
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