A coordinated international operation, Operation Protected Childhood 8, took place between June 8 and June 11 and resulted in the arrest of 88 suspected child sexual predators and saw 15 children rescued Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced this week.
According to the statement issued by ICE, "This operation is a collaborative effort by HSI and our foreign Law enforcement partners that resulted in removing child predators from our streets." Operation 8 "targeted the distributors and producers of child sexual abuse material throughout the Americas."
This operation saw HSI and ICE partnering with law enforcement agencies in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Panama and Ecuador.
Internationally, the operation resulted in "over 170 search warrants and 86 arrests" as well as the rescue of 15 minors during the search and seizures.
Within the United States, HSI offices in seven different states executed six search warrants which resulted in four arrests on child exploitation charges.
"These executions were simultaneous with the enforcement actions made by Brazilian authorities and international law enforcement partners in Argentina, Paraguay, Panama and Ecuador with the support of our HSI presence overseas."
In McAllen, Texas, the HSI Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force arrested a man who was "unlawfully present" and a citizen of Mexico. The man had been previously convicted as a sex offender and had two outstanding warrants at the time of his arrest. He was found to be in possession of a firearm and has been arrested on charges for production, transportation, and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
In Buffalo an individual was arrested on charges stemming from an investigation that took place in 2020. At that time it was discovered that the individual had downloaded over 1,300 files of CSAM, and an additional 8,700 files were located after a forensic review of electronics seized in August 2020. "After failing a polygraph examination, this individual admitted to numerous acts of sexual abuse of minors over more than a 20-year span."
Operation Protected Childhood began in March 2015 by HSI Brasilia in partnership with Brazil's Ministry of Justice and Public Security Cyber Lab "to increase the effectiveness of online child exploitation investigations."
Since 2017 the resulting partnerships have "resulted in a total of approximately 861 arrests, 1,560 executed search warrants, and dozens of minor victims rescued."