The ICE-led initiative was carried out with assistance from the sheriff's departments of Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery counties, and the probation departments of Galveston and Brazoria counties. ICE agents and officers located and arrested 25 aliens, some of them in the United States illegally and some with legal status. Those with legal status have been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, rendering them removable from the United States.
"Everyone should be able to live a life free of sexual exploitation and abuse," said Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Houston. "ICE will not rest in its pursuit of those who physically or sexually abuse others, especially children. We remain steadfast in protecting of those who are unable to protect themselves."
Below are descriptions of some of those arrested.
- A Conroe lawful permanent resident, 49, was convicted in California of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14. The man repeatedly sexually assaulted his 12 and 15-year-old stepdaughters.
- A Houston lawful permanent resident, 38, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The victim was his 12-year-old daughter.
- A Houston man, 21, was convicted of sexual assault of a child. He sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl on two occasions.
- A Pasadena lawful permanent resident, 33, was convicted of sexual assault after he entered his estranged wife's house as she slept with their 2-year old daughter, then dragged the woman into another room and sexually assaulted her. Another daughter was awakened by the victim's screams and witnessed the assault.
Of those arrested, four entered the United States illegally, two entered as students but remained beyond the expiration of their visas, and one had been lawfully admitted but had not yet obtained residency status. The remaining 18 were lawful permanent residents.
Those arrested are from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya, Laos, Mali, Mexico, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Previous convictions were for a variety of crimes including aggravated sexual assault of a child, sexual assault of a child, sexual assault, online solicitation of a minor, indecency with a child, indecent exposure, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, and injury to a child. Not all of those arrested were convicted of sexual offenses involving minors; some victims were adults.
This operation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals, including more than 1,090 in Texas.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.