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October 25, 2022Phoenix, AZ, United StatesChild Exploitation

16 arrested in undercover child sex crimes operation led by local PD, supported by HSI Phoenix

PHOENIX — The results of a multi-agency undercover operation supported by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and led by the Phoenix Police Department Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEaT) Unit, was announced Oct. 24.

The operation was conducted with federal, state and local HEaT representatives, including the Phoenix Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit, Tempe Police Department, Mesa Police Department, FBI, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for Operation Tangled Web. This undercover operation targeted to reduce the demand of child sex crimes and human trafficking.

Throughout the operational period, undercover detectives placed ads on websites commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts. The suspects allegedly solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts with minors and were subsequently arrested.

The Phoenix Police Department routinely conducts operations of this type with local, state and federal partners in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels child sex trafficking and the exploitation of children in the community. The following suspects solicited various sex acts from minors and were arrested:

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423, or by completing its online tip form – both are staffed around-the-clock by investigators. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users may dial TTY 802-872-6196.

HSI takes a victim-centered approach to child exploitation investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), ICAC partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC’s toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. Further, HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify, and apprehend offenders, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.