CLEVELAND — A German national was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday to charges related to the sexual exploitation of a child. The sentence is the result of an undercover sting operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Otto Linzenbach, 63, of Leipzig, Germany, pleaded guilty in August to three charges: attempted sex trafficking of children, attempted exploitation of children and travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
"The details laid out in this case reveal a secret world that targets our society's most precious assets – our children," said U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, Northern District of Ohio. "We will work cooperatively and vigilantly to protect our most vulnerable."
"This operation shows the length to which those who seek to have sex with children are willing to go – even if it means flying across the globe," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Ohio and Michigan. "It also underscores the fact that lengthy federal prison terms await those who engage in this depraved behavior. HSI will continue to use our unique authorities to confront this threat wherever it exists."
According to court documents, Linzenbach first emailed an ICE HSI undercover special agent in June 2010. Linzenbach eventually inquired about the availability of a girl between 10 and 13 years of age – for sex – and requested pictures of available girls. He eventually asked about the availability of a boy and girl and mailed a $100 deposit reserving a boy and girl. He inquired about what sexual acts the children would do with one another and whether he could videotape the encounter. Linzenbach was arrested on April 1, 2011, after the undercover ICE HSI agent picked him up at the Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel. He paid $1,600 in cash before being arrested.
Linzenbach's case is one of four felony convictions that resulted from an investigation that began in September 2009, when ICE HSI created an undercover web site offering secure travel from Cleveland to Canada for people who sought to engage in sexual conduct with minors. He is the third to be sentenced in this case. ICE HSI special agents, acting undercover as people who can facilitate sex with minors, then responded to email requests for information about arranging such encounters.
This extensive investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE HSI 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. ICE HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.