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Operation Predator - Targeting child exploitation and sexual crimes

Fact Sheet
June 25, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the largest investigative agency in the Department of Homeland Security, places a high priority on enforcing laws that combat the sexual exploitation of children. Under Operation Predator, the agency's flagship initiative targeting child sex predators, ICE has made more than 8,000 criminal arrests since 2003.

Each year, millions of children fall prey to sexual predators. Experts estimate that one-in-five girls and one-in-10 boys in the United States will be sexually exploited before they reach adulthood. These young victims are left with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars. Operation Predator identifies, investigates and arrests child predators. Operation Predator draws on ICE's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children. Coordinated nationally and internationally, this initiative brings together an array of ICE disciplines and resources to target these child sex abusers. As part of the effort:

  • ICE created the National Child Victim Identification System in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Justice, the Internet Crimes Against Children task forces and other agencies.
  • ICE agents stationed internationally work with foreign governments, Interpol and others to enhance coordination and cooperation on crimes that cross borders.
  • ICE is a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, joining law enforcement agencies around the world to fight child exploitation information and images that travel over the Internet.

Operation Predator Results

Since inception, ICE has criminally arrested more than 8,000 child predators nationwide, including a number of individuals who have committed a wide range of child sex exploitation crimes.

Traveling Child Sexual Offenders

Working cooperatively with foreign governments through ICE attaché offices, ICE agents have made 99 arrests under the traveling child sex offender provisions of the 2003 Protect Act. Of those, 99 have been convicted and others are still being investigated.

For example, in October 2008, a New Jersey man pleaded guilty in Newark to three counts of traveling to Thailand with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and one count each of producing and possessing child pornography. Wayne Nelson Corliss was the subject of a worldwide Interpol alert, based only on an anonymous photo, which brought ICE agents the leads they needed to locate and arrest him. Since then, two other men in Alabama have pleaded guilty to traveling with Corliss to Thailand to have sex with young boys.

Internet Child Pornography

Drawing on the agency's cybercrime investigative expertise and international law enforcement partnerships, ICE tackles crimes that cross the nation's virtual borders.

For example, In December 2009, HSI initiated an investigation with the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section into an online forum known as Dreamboard. The investigation was named Operation Delego. The forum was identified by individuals during proffer sessions stemming from another joint investigation into an online forum known as TheCacheBBS. The investigation revealed that there was an overlap between membership of TheCacheBBS and Dreamboard. The investigation also revealed that the Dreamboard members were actively posting and trading hard core child pornography involving children as young as infants. The investigation identified more than 600 members of the forum. To date, more than 70 individuals have been indicted in the United States and in 13 countries around the globe.

Victim Identification Program

The HSI Child Exploitation Investigations Unit participates in an Interpol-based Victim Identification Program. The Victim Identification Program combines HSI's technological and investigative capabilities and resources to rescue victims of child sexual abuse. Since the program's inception in November 2011, HSI agents have identified and located 16 victims depicted in child abuse images and identified 12 additional child victims of sexual abuse.

Predators Face Severe Penalties

Several laws increase the probability that sexual predators who harm children will suffer severe consequences, including the Mann Act, the 1994 Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Act, the 2003 Protect Act and the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. Federal law bars U.S. residents from engaging in sexual or pornographic activities anywhere in the world with a child under 18. ICE works with law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups around the globe to investigate crimes of this nature. Those convicted in the United States face significant penalties:

  • Maximum 30 years in prison for possession, manufacture, distribution of child pornography.
  • Maximum 30 years in prison for traveling child sex offender, facilitator of sex with children, or a participant in these crimes.
  • Maximum life sentence for sex trafficking children for prostitution.

How You Can Help

Report suspicious activity to ICE, 1-866-347-2423 or www.ICE.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form.

Report suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

Operation Sunflower – Unsolved Cases

WANTED: 'Jane and John Doe' for possession, distribution, production and conspiracy to produce child pornography

This widely distributed series of child pornography images, which authorities believe was taken about 11 years ago, depicts a male and female adult sexually molesting a girl who looked to be about 13 years old at the time. Although the male's face has been purposely obscured by an unknown person, the female suspect's face can be seen in a number of the images. John Doe appears to be a white male, 40 to 50 years old, and Jane Doe appears to be a white female, 35 to 45 years old.  The suspects would now be approximately 11 years older.  The female suspect has several tattoos, including: a black tattoo on her right hip resembling a butterfly; a tattoo on her right shoulder blade depicting the outline of a curled up cat; a tattoo with words across the top of her left wrist; and a tattoo of unknown design on the upper portion of her left breast.

Based upon detailed forensic analysis, investigators suspect the abuse depicted in the images may have occurred in Los Angeles, possibly in the San Fernando Valley-area. HSI special agents in Los Angeles have interviewed dozens of individuals seeking further leads in the case, but they have yet to confirm the suspects' or victim's identities. Although the victim is likely an adult now, HSI continues to investigate the case in the hope that the perpetrators can be located and prosecuted, preventing the abuse of future victims.

The sexual abuse images in this case were first discovered by HSI special agents in Chicago in 2007 in an unrelated child pornography investigation. The material was submitted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's (NCMEC) Child Victim Identification Program, which determined the victim had not yet been identified and could be in danger of ongoing sexual exploitation. After determining there was probable cause to believe that the abuse occurred in California in approximately 2001, NCMEC referred the case to HSI Los Angeles for further investigation.

Report tips to the HSI Tipline: "John Doe"

By phone: 866-347-2423 (From the U.S. & Canada) or 802-872-6199 (From anywhere in the world)

On the Internet: www.ICE.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form

John Doe

UNKNOWN SUSPECT #1: Wanted for questioning in an unsolved case involving the sexual abuse of children

HSI and NCMEC are seeking the adult male seen in these images for questioning about an unsolved case of child pornography. The unknown suspect is an adult male with short brown hair and an indiscernible tattoo on his upper right tricep.

The series of child pornography in this unsolved case depicts an adult male sexually abusing a pre-pubescent male child. The series was first discovered by HSI special agents in Portland, Ore., in 2006 during a search warrant in a child pornography case.

Report tips to the HSI Tipline: Unknown Suspect #1

By phone: 866-347-2423 (From the U.S. & Canada) or 802-872-6199 (From anywhere in the world)

On the Internet: www.ICE.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form

Unknown Suspect #1

UNKNOWN SUSPECT #2: Wanted for questioning in an unsolved case involving the sexual abuse of children

HSI and NCMEC are seeking the adult male seen in these images for questioning about an unsolved case of child pornography. The unknown suspect is an adult male with gray and white hair, a full beard and is wearing thin wire-framed eyeglasses.

The series of child pornography in this unsolved case depicts an adult male sexually abusing a toddler.

HSI special agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico, first encountered this series of child pornography in 2007 during an unrelated investigation into child pornography. Files have since been seen in numerous additional cases.

Report tips to the HSI Tipline: Unknown Suspect #2

By phone: 866-347-2423 (From the U.S. & Canada) or 802-872-6199 (From anywhere in the world)

On the Internet: www.ICE.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form

Unknown Suspect #2

Operation Sunflower – Significant Cases

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — On Nov. 15, HSI special agents rescued three abused children and arrested Stephen Keating, 52, of Jesup, Ga. In September, HSI's Cyber Crimes Center received a referral from Interpol after Danish police discovered child abuse material depicting two young girls being sexually abused by an adult male. On Nov. 14, the Cyber Crimes Center identified an Internet service connected to the Jesup residence and referred the case to HSI special agents in Savannah, Ga. HSI was assisted in this investigation by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations in Savannah, CBP Air and Marine Operations in Jacksonville, Fla., the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Liberty County Sheriff's Office.

CLOVIS, Calif. — On Nov. 1, HSI special agents in Fresno, Calif., arrested Samuel Gueydan, 48, of Clovis, for distribution and possession of child pornography. A search of Gueydan's residence revealed that he was in possession of approximately 1.2 million still images, and over 7,000 videos of child pornography, including images known to have been produced in known source countries such as Russia, Thailand and Ukraine. In addition, he owned several hundred printed images of child pornography organized into books and catalogues. Gueydan was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of California and has been ordered to home confinement under supervision while awaiting trial. Assisting HSI in the search warrant was the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, Clovis Police Department and California Department of Justice.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Nov. 8, HSI special agents in Columbus arrested Mickell E. Close, 31, of Quincy, Ohio, on charges of child pornography production, and rescued three children who Close secretly videotaped in a bathroom in order to create still photos and videos that he used to trade on the Internet for other images of child pornography. HSI was assisted by the Franklin County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Logan County Sheriff's Office.

DETROIT — On Nov. 27, HSI special agents in Detroit arrested Michael Wioskowski, 54, of Eastpointe, Mich., for possession and receipt of child pornography. He was indicted in the Eastern District of Michigan on the same day. During the execution of the search warrant, special agents discovered hidden video of two underage females using the shower in his residence. Wioskowski was employed as a court security officer in Macomb County and has previously held positions as a reserve police officer in Hamtramck, Mich., and as a security officer.

FRESNO, Calif. — On Nov. 6, HSI special agents in Fresno arrested Bradley Vaine, 26, of Fresno, for distribution and possession of child pornography and rescued a 7-year-old girl who had a severe mental disability. Vaine, a convicted sex offender, was charged Nov. 15 in a two-count federal indictment with possession and receipt of child pornography. He remains in federal custody at this time awaiting the outcome of his case. Additional potential charges are being pursued by the Fresno Police Department, which together with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and Tulare Police Department, assisted HSI with the case.

HOUSTON — On Nov. 13, HSI special agents in Houston arrested William C. Noonan, 38, of Houston, for production, possession and distribution of child pornography and rescued two children in Dallas. Noonan was indicted in the Southern District of Texas Nov. 8 after a joint investigation with HSI Dallas that revealed he had engaged in the production of child pornography involving children ages 5 and 7. Search warrants executed in this case resulted in the discovery of 235 images of unidentified minor victims and 48 images related to the two victims identified and rescued. Noonan is a registered sex offender.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — On Nov. 8, HSI special agents identified a 6-year-old victim of child pornography and arrested Gerald Roberts, 51, of Pageland, S.C., the man who allegedly victimized her to produce child pornography. HSI's Cyber Crimes Center had initiated a child victim identification effort in October based on images found on Internet websites known to host child pornography. Following an intensive investigation, special agents were able to identify both Roberts and the abused female child. Roberts is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for South Carolina.

SAN FRANCISCO — On Nov. 8, HSI special agents in San Francisco arrested Michael Lindsay, 53, of San Jose, Calif., a U.S. citizen, for engaging in child sex tourism. Lindsay was arrested as he was boarding a flight from San Francisco International Airport to Manila, Philippines. The arrest was pursuant to an investigation initiated by HSI Manila into allegations of sex tourism activities. On Sept. 4, the subject arrived at the San Francisco International Airport from Manila, where a complaint had been filed by Philippine prosecutors that alleged Lindsay had sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl. HSI continues to search for additional victims as evidence suggests Lindsay may have had sexual contact with additional children.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — On Nov. 15, Ann Marie Piper, 48, was sentenced in the Central District of Illinois to 25 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release for her involvement in the production and distribution of child pornography. The images that led to Piper's arrest in Springfield in May 2012 were first discovered by HSI special agents in Oregon in October 2011 in an unrelated case. The images, depicting an adult woman sexually abusing a child, were submitted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC examined the files, both abuse and non-abuse material, and discovered clues in one of the non-abuse images that would later lead to the victim's rescue and Piper's arrest: a photo of the two of them by a lake at an outdoor camp site. Clues in the photo led investigators to the site of the photo, a resort in Richville, Minn., and ultimately to Piper in Peoria, Ill.