US arrests 190, rescues 18 kids in child porn crackdown

Posted at 06/09/2012 8:17 AM

WASHINGTON - Police have arrested 190 individuals, and identified and rescued 18 children, in a major crackdown on child pornography last month, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday.

In a statement, ICE said most of the arrests during Operation Orion through the month of May took place in the United States, but suspects were also picked up in Argentina, Britain, the Philippines and Spain.

"Many of the child exploitation cases under Operation Orion began with a child or teen chatting with someone he or she met online," said ICE Director John Morton.

"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."

Operation Orion targeted individuals "who possessed, received, transported, distributed, advertised or produced images or videos of child pornography," the ICE statement said.

Among those arrested was a 35-year-old individual in Louisiana suspected of using the seven-year-old he babysat to make child pornography, and a 35-year-old in Oklahoma who offered money for sex to a 14-year-old victim he met on a social networking site.

In Michigan, a 54-year-old allegedly persuaded an underage boy to join him in illegal sexual conduct that he then photographed, while a 28-year-old was found to have more than 1,200 images and 109 videos of suspected child pornography on computers and media storage devices.

No details of the arrests conducted overseas were disclosed.

ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which in the fiscal year ended September 30 initiated more than 3,000 cases into child exploitation and made 1,455 arrests.

In that same year, the HSI computer forensics program examined the equivalent of 16.5 million filing cabinets of data related to child exploitation cases.

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