Law enforcement arrested more than 2,300 accused child sex offenders and identified 383 children who have been victims of sex abuse, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces made the arrests nationwide between March and May in a sweep dubbed Operation Broken Heart, identifying an additional 195 offenders who produced child pornography or committed child sex abuse, according to the DOJ. The 383 children were allegedly either forced to participate in the production of child pornography or had suffered recent, ongoing or past sexual abuse.
“No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. “And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production. We at the Department of Justice are determined to strike back against these repugnant crimes. It is shocking and very sad that in this one operation, we have arrested more than 2,300 alleged child predators and investigated some 25,200 sexual abuse complaints. Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”
The 61 ICAC task force investigated more than 25,000 complaints of sexual abuse and targeted alleged sex offenders in four categories. First, those who produce, trade or possess child pornography; second, anyone who enticed children online for sexual purposes; third, those who engaged in child sex trafficking and finally, those who traveled internationally or across state lines to sexually abuse children.
President Donald Trump has made it a priority for his administration to fight against online sex trafficking. The President signed legislation in April aimed at punishing websites that facilitate sex trafficking, such as Backpage.com.
“I want to thank you for your courage, and thank you for helping survivors across our country,” Trump told victims of sex crimes when he signed the bill. “And you are not alone. You are not alone. And this is a very important day. If we work together, we can get the criminal traffickers off our streets and off of the Internet. We can bring safety and hope to every community across the country, and we can create a culture that respects the dignity of every child of God.”
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