ICE Director John Morton released a statement today saying that 123 victims of child sexual exploitation have been identified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents during an international operation aimed at rescuing victims and targeting individuals who own, trade and produce images of child pornography.
According to ICE, of the 123 young victims identified, 44 children were directly rescued from their abusers and 79 were identified as either being exploited by others outside of their home or are now adults who were victimized as children.
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 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.
Two unidentified adults have also been charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in online photos to be about 13 when she was abused. The man and woman are charged as "Jane Doe" and "John Doe." ~ WOAI
- Julianne Hough reveals being a child abuse survivor (Video)
- Mom and 4-year-old daughter die after dad sets house fire
- Remains of Conn. shooter Adam Lanza claimed (Video)
- Katt Williams arrested for child endangerment (Video)
To receive e-mail alerts to Richard's Domestic Crimes articles, Subscribe Here to Get Instant Updates.
E-mail alerts are free, private and secure, and you won't get any ink on your fingers.