Feds announce hundreds of arrests, rescues in sweeping child porn investigation
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Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune
Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Thursday announced the rescue of 44 sexually exploited children during an international sweep dubbed Operation Sunflower. Federal authorities also arrested 245 suspected pedophiles -- including 13 in the agency's New Orleans region.
Agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations division identified a total of 123 victims, 110 of them in the United States, during the five-week operation aimed at targeting predators who own, trade or produce sexually explicit material involving children, ICE Director John Morton said in a written statement.
The 44 rescued children were taken directly from their abusers, possibly parents, guardians or siblings. The other 79 children either were being exploited by others outside of their homes or are now adults.
"The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong," Morton said. "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."