To protect the most vulnerable and root out predators has been a high priority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for more than two decades.
Throughout the years, ICE HSI child exploitation prevention efforts morphed from a small center in Fairfax, Virginia, into a worldwide initiative. The launch of HSI’s flagship initiative, Operation Predator, as well as key domestic and foreign partnerships, have been paramount to expanding both its reach and success.
The goal: To identify, investigate, and arrest child predators who possess, trade, or produce child sexual abuse material; travel overseas for sex with minors; and engage in the sex trafficking of children.
Rescuing and assisting in the recovery of these vulnerable victims is just as important.
“Innocent children who are sexually exploited physically or through disseminated child sexual abuse material may suffer irreparable trauma,” says Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge of ICE HSI El Paso. “Under our ongoing Operation Predator program, our HSI special agents continue to work jointly with our law enforcement partners to rescue victimized children, and aggressively target child predators for their heinous crimes.”
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. Additionally, federal law bars U.S. residents from engaging in sexual or pornographic activities anywhere in the world with a child under 18.
Those convicted in the United States face significant penalties, including:
- Up to 30 years in prison for possession, manufacture, or distribution of child sexual abuse material.
- Up to 30 years in prison for traveling abroad to have sex with children or being a facilitator in these crimes.
- Up to a life sentence for sex trafficking children for prostitution.