U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), participated in a joint press conference with the Thailand Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Thailand Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS), the Thailand Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA), the Royal Thai Police (RTP), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and several non-governmental organizations to address recent activity regarding the child exploitation Operation Blackwrist.
HSI International Operations Acting Deputy Assistant Director David Magdycz and HSI Bangkok Regional Attaché Eric McLoughlin attended this press conference to discuss HSI’s involvement in this investigation and address any inquiries from the media on the HSI portion of the investigation.
Operation Blackwrist, which was named after a bracelet worn by one of the victims, was launched by INTERPOL in 2017 following the discovery of material depicting the abuse of 11 boys, all under 13 years old. The material, first identified on the Darkweb, originated from a subscription-based website with nearly 63,000 users worldwide. For years, the site had published new material weekly, with the abuser taking great care to avoid detection, often masking the children and leaving very few visual or audio clues.
HSI Bangkok and HSI Indianapolis partnered with INTERPOL, DSI as well as other law enforcement agencies to pursue any investigative leads with a potential nexus to the United States. On January 16, 2018, HSI Bangkok assisted Thai authorities with the execution of search and arrest warrants in furtherance of this operation. One arrest was executed, and 5 victims were rescued at the time of the operation.
Following this operation, HSI Bangkok worked with the HSI Cyber Crimes Center to ensure actionable leads were provided to HSI domestic offices for further investigation. To date, these leads have resulted in four arrests to include individuals who were occupying positions of public trust with additional leads still being pursued. HSI Indianapolis, HSI Buffalo, HSI Ft. Lauderdale, HSI Norfolk, HSI Tyler and C3 are providing significant support for this operation.
In August 2017, HSI and DSI signed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner on the investigation of transnational criminal organizations with a nexus between the United States and the Kingdom of Thailand.