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September 15, 2015Portland, OR, United StatesChild Exploitation

Combating child exploitation is top priority for ICE’s HSI special agents

Each year, millions of children fall prey to sexual predators. These young victims are left with permanent psychological, physical and emotional scars. One of the top priorities of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is to combat child exploitation, and rescue these innocent victims from further abuse.

A recent investigation conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) office in Portland underscores this priority, and resulted in the rescue of a two-year-old child from continued sexual abuse. Furthermore, the investigation resulted in a 25-year federal prison sentence for a woman accused of sexually exploiting the child on multiple occasions, and also allowing the child to be sexually abused by another person.

"HSI is glad we were able to rescue this child and bring her abusers to justice," said HSI Portland Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Hernandez. "There are a lot more monsters who prey on children, and HSI and our partners will continue to find them and take them out of our communities."

Names, dates and certain details of this case have been omitted from this article to protect the privacy of the victim of this crime.

Following a search warrant at the home of the second abuser, who is male, and a subsequent interview, the man admitted to downloading child pornography, which he said he and his adult son both watched.

The younger man said the accused woman, who was his girlfriend, sent him sexually suggestive photos of the two-year-old. He also drove to the woman's residence, where he picked up the woman and the toddler and took them back to his home in the Pacific Northwest, where they both sexually abused the child.

The next day, a special agent from HSI Portland and a detective from the local police department conducted a welfare check on the toddler.

HSI conducted this investigation together with the Interagency Child Exploitation Proactive Task Force (INTERCEPT), consisting of HSI special agents, police officers from the Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County Sheriffs' Offices and the Oregon Department of Justice. INTERCEPT is tasked with the prevention, interdiction, investigation and prosecution of Internet and computer-related state and federal crimes against children.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.