Two hundred and fifty-five child predators, including two men from Southwest Florida, were arrested and 61 victims of child sexual exploitation identified during a five-week operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and Internet Crimes Against Children task forces across the United States and its territories.
On June 7, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, served a state search warrant at the Cape Coral home of John Baptista Malheiro. He allegedly distributed child pornography via computer network and was actively downloading child exploitation materials when police and agents entered his home and arrested him.
On June 27, agents and police served a state search warrant at the Fort Myers home of Derrick Lynn Brewster. He was arrested on state charges of possession of child pornography after such materials were found.
Operation iGuardian ran May 28 to June 30 as part of HSI's Operation Predator to identify and rescue victims of online sexual exploitation, and to arrest their abusers as well as others who own, trade and produce images of child pornography.
"Protecting our youth in the digital age requires all of us to be on the lookout for child predators abusing and extorting victims online," said ICE Director John Morton. "Children and parents need to understand that not everyone online is who they say they are. Child abusers prowl social media looking for opportunities to force young people into sexual exploitation through guile, deceit, and extortion.
Twenty-four of the 61 victims identified during the Operation iGuardian were engaging online with strangers who sexually exploited them. Their ages ranged from 7 to 17, the majority aged 13 to 15 years old. Of the 61 victims identified, four were under the age of 3; five were ages 4 to 6; 13 were ages 7 to 9; 10 were ages 10 to 12; 23 were ages 13 to 15; and six were ages 16 to 17. Forty-two were girls and 19 were boys.
Of the 255 child predators arrested during Operation iGuardian, 20 were charged with online sexual enticement of a minor, two of which escalated to sextortion of multiple victims. The other 235 were charged with child pornography production, possession and distribution of child pornography; traveling with the intent to have sex with a minor; and various other offenses, including rape and molestation. Of the 255 arrested, 251 were men and 4 were women.
In fiscal year 2013 to date, 1,674 child predators have been arrested by HSI on criminal charges related to the online sexual exploitation of children. In 2012, 1,655 child predators were arrested, 1,335 were arrested in 2011, and 912 were arrested in 2010. Since 2003, HSI has initiated more than 29,000 cases and arrested more than 10,000 individuals for these types of crimes.
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 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
Article by news-press.com