7 January 2013

123 SEXUALLY EXPLOITED CHILDREN IDENTIFIED BY HSI DURING ‘OPERATION SUNFLOWER’

One hundred twenty-three victims of child sexual exploitation were 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. Of that number, 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 ICE Director John 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. Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.

Of the 123 victims identified during Operation Sunflower: five were under the age of 3, nine were ages 4 to 6; 21 were ages 7 to 9; 11 were ages 10 to 12; 38 were ages 13 to 15; and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.

In 2012, HSI special agents, working closely with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), partially identified multiple individuals across the country who were sexually abusing young children and taking photos or videos of the acts. Special agents worked with the Department of Justice and its Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section to issue national Jane and John Doe warrants to arrest these perpetrators and rescue their victims. The most recent case was solved two weeks ago in Florida.

“We applaud our partners at ICE for their worldwide work in identifying these victims of child sexual exploitation and for helping to remove these children from extremely dangerous situations,” said NCMEC CEO John Ryan. “We know that there’s more work to be done. Anyone could know these victims, not knowing that they’re being harmed. They could be your neighbors’ children, your child’s classmate, or even your own child. We thank Director Morton and everyone at ICE for their strong commitment to rescuing the most vulnerable of victims.”

Operation Sunflower was conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 866-347-2423 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 NCMEC, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

Read more about Operation Sunflower at www.ice.gov

Share with a friend

Photos

ICE Operation Sunflower

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations identified and rescued children from their abusers under an initiative named Operation Sunflower.

View Slideshow

Previous news item

HSI’S NATIONAL SEARCH FOR ‘JANE DOE’ ENDS WITH ARREST OF FLORIDA WOMAN

The nationwide search for a “Jane Doe” suspected child pornographer, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ended with the arrest of an Okaloosa County, Fla., [more...]

15 October 2014

Europol Training Course to Further Strengthen the Combating of Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet

Europol held its fifteenth “Europol Training Course on Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Internet (COSEC),” Oct. 6-14, in Selm, Germany. The course provided training for 58 representatives [more...]

15 October 2014

Fighting Child Trafficking: A Main Priority for EU Law Enforcement

Children are one of the most vulnerable groups targeted by the organised criminal groups involved in trafficking human beings (THB). Europol, in cooperation with EU law enforcement authorities and its [more...]

1 October 2014

Minister Opstelten: tackle child abuse on the international level

The fight against sexual abuse of children on the Internet is an international matter and the National Police of the Netherlands have joined the international platform of countries, investigative services [more...]

29 August 2014

VGT’s sixth biennial international conference in Amsterdam

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), an international alliance of law enforcement and private sector agencies dedicated to combating online child sexual abuse, is hosting its sixth biennial international conference in [more...]

5 August 2014

INHOPE Announces new Advisory Board

The International Association of Internet Hotlines has named initial members to its new Advisory Board. The board will serve the non-governmental organization in its mission to respond to reports of [more...]

30 July 2014

New National Network for reporting online child sexual abuse content

Australian efforts against the trade in online child sexual abuse material were strengthened significantly with the finalization of formal agreements between the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the police [more...]

6 June 2014

U.S. law enforcement honored for contributions to child safety at National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Congressional Breakfast

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) recognized the efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other U.S. law enforcement agencies during [more...]

6 June 2014

World Vision report finds limited understanding of child sexual abuse in Southeast Asia puts children at risk

In coordination with the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression (June 4), World Vision’s Project Childhood – Prevention Pillar team released a report entitled, “Sex, Abuse and Childhood: [more...]

20 May 2014

UNWTO and World Vision join forces to fight child exploitation in tourism

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and World Vision (WV) East Asia Regional Office signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) April 17 to forge a partnership aimed at fighting [more...]

13 May 2014

Switzerland joins Virtual Global Taskforce

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Switzerland is the latest country to join the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), an international alliance of law enforcement and private sector agencies dedicated to combating online child [more...]

5 May 2014

Training by KINSA and VGT leads to arrest of predator in Uganda

In August of 2013, KINSA delivered child exploitation investigation training to police officers from 10 East African countries in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to the training, a social media provider requested [more...]

2 May 2014

INTERPOL-coordinated operation strikes back at ‘sextortion’ networks

An INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting organized crime networks behind ‘sextortion’ cases around the world has resulted in the arrest of 58 individuals, including three men linked to the group which harassed [more...]

30 April 2014

Friend MTS donates unique video fingerprinting technology to International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children to disrupt the distribution of graphic child pornography online

London, — April 30, 2014 — Today, Friend MTS is donating a forensic technology developed and customized for the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) to assist in [more...]

22 April 2014

Various VGT partners featured in Bloomberg Business Week story

WASHINGTON — Several of the Virtual Global Taskforce’s law enforcement and private sector members were profiled as part of a recent article by Bloomberg Business Week on the various global [more...]

17 April 2014

EXPERT JOINS THE ECPAT GLOBAL NETWORK

ECPAT International appoints Head of Programme Combating Sexual Exploitation of Children Online BANGKOK, 17 April 2014 — ECPAT International is very pleased to announce the appointment of Marie-Laure Lemineur as [more...]

16 April 2014

Online Child Sexual Exploitation On The Rise? – Internet Hotlines, Industry and Law Enforcement Doing More Than Ever To Fight It

Amsterdam – The Netherlands Today, INHOPE – The International Association of Internet Hotlines published its new data set for the year 2013 showcasing key trends and emerging threats in the [more...]

28 February 2014

EX-MARINE RECEIVES 210-YEAR FEDERAL PRISON TERM FOR DRUGGING AND RAPING GIRLS IN CAMBODIA

Ex-Marine receives 210-year federal prison term for drugging and raping girls in Cambodia A retired U.S. Marine Corps captain who was convicted of drugging and sexually abusing girls in Cambodia [more...]

18 February 2014

HSI BOGOTA AND COLOMBIAN NATIONAL POLICE ARREST CHILD PREDATOR

HSI Bogota and Colombian National Police arrest child predator U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) partnered with the National Police of Colombia (CNP) Feb. 10 to [more...]

10 February 2014

It’s A Penalty: Underage Sex Warning to World Cup Supporters

Child protection charities have joined forces with the football world and law enforcement on a campaign to protect Brazilian children from sexual exploitation and abuse during the World Cup 2014. [more...]

10 February 2014

Two VGT Partners Fight Dissemination of Child Sexual Exploitation Images Through Targeted Collaboration

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and PayPal are combining efforts to address the dissemination of child pornography images through file sharing, peer-to-peer and other digital content [more...]