International Investigation Nets 245 Adults Suspected of Child Porn and Sexual Abuse Crimes

January 4, 2013 by David S. Seltzer

CNN reported today that an international team of investigators has arrested a total of 245 people accused of serious online sex crimes involving minors. Led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Operation Sunflower also removed 44 children from abusive situations and identified 79 others who were victims of past abuse or not exploited in the home. All but 23 of the suspects were living in the United States, the article reported, and some were already registered sex offenders. The operation was conducted in November and December.

Named for a Kansas road sign that helped identify an abuse victim, Operation Sunflower sought to arrest people for exploiting children and creating, transmitting or possessing child pornography. Of the children identified by the operation, some are now adults, but five others were under age 3 and nine were between 4 and 6. Authorities did not reveal the countries of those perpetrators and victims outside the United States, in order to not disturb ongoing efforts by partners in other countries. In a news conference, ICE director John Morton said the agency would like the public's help with other investigations, including one whose perpetrators' photos are posted on ICE's website. That abuse, involving a girl who was about 13 at the time, took place about 11 years ago in an area believed to be Los Angeles. Within hours, one perpetrator was captured.

Because of the interstate, international nature of Internet crimes, I suspect most of those arrested will face federal criminal charges, rather than state charges. That would also be true if any of the foreign nationals arrested are brought to the U.S. for trial. Federal criminal charges are very serious, in part because child sex crimes are so politicized that Congress frequently raises the penalties despite opposition from
criminal law authorities. For that reason, anyone arrested in this operation, or for similar reasons, should seek out an experienced lawyer right away.

Based in Miami, Seltzer Law, P.A., represents clients across the United States who are accused of serious crimes involving computers and technology. If you're facing charges or believe you will be soon, don't hesitate to call us for a free, confidential consultation. You can send us an email or call toll-free at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).