Over two months, law enforcement authorities across the country have hunted down alleged child sex predators, leading to 238 arrests in southern California.
Los Angeles’ regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force was one of 61 ICAC task forces involved in “Operation Broken Heart III” nationwide.
Authorities warned Monday of the dangers of the Internet in child sexual exploitation. The Los Angeles Times reported that the operation’s regional task force “targeted offenders wanted for the sexual exploitation of children, child prostitution, sex tourism and possessing and distributing child pornography, citing communication from LAPD Deputy Chief Matt Blake.
Those arrested in the course of Operation Broken Heart varied from entertainers and “community leaders” to “white-collar professionals” and even a Buddhist monk.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations acting special agent in charge John Reynolds alerted the public to the monstrous level of child sexual exploitation while encouraging parents to communicate with their kids about online safety, according to the Times.
The ICAC unit reviews approximately 350 cases between 11 officers and serves about 300 warrants each year, according to the report. A mobile crime unit, “The Beast,” scans hard drives for pornographic images.
Glee television actor Mark Wayne Salling was charged in May with receiving and possessing child pornography. The indictment states that in December of last year Salling received pornography, including a still image and video of young girls, and that he possessed two more pornographic videos of young girls.
Authorities arrested 26-year-old Riverside Buddhist monk Kounzong Saebphang after tips lead them to search the Wat Lao monastery where he lived. The Times reported that the federal investigators found child pornography on at least one digital device and that he is believed to have distributed porn as well.
An Australian traveler was caught visiting Los Angeles in May to buy sex with a six-year-old boy.
A British man had child pornography charges added in June to prior charges for visiting the Coachella Valley for the purpose of sex with preteen boys.
The U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention introduced the ICAC Task Force Program in 1998 with the aim of aiding “federal, state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems or computer technology to exploit children.” As of June 2015 the project had resulted in more than 54,000 arrests.
In Texas, the Houston-Metro ICAC task force arrested 126 individuals in the two-month Operation Broken Heart III operation this year, according to KPRC 2 News. More than 30 law enforcement agencies from the local, state, federal and even international levels participated in the investigation.
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