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June 30, 2021Fresno, CA, United StatesChild Exploitation

ICE HSI investigation targeting human trafficking leads to the rescue of 10 women and children

21 arrests made in connection to child exploitation

FRESNO, Calif. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Fresno Police Department Vice Unit, and Fresno County District Attorney’s Investigators conducted a multi-day operation to combat child exploitation and human trafficking in the Fresno area, June 23. During the operation, 10 women and girls were rescued from the sex trade while 21 arrests were made for multiple child exploitation related charges including: contacting a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense, aiding prostitution, arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes and solicitation of acts of prostitution.

“HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to safeguard our local communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, who oversees HSI operations in Northern California. “By working together, we will continue to identify these dangerous offenders and bring them to justice. Our combined efforts are vital to protecting young people from these heinous individuals.”

Operation Stolen Hearts focused on arresting human traffickers and the child predators seeking to pay for sex with minors. Undercover agents and detectives employed a variety of methods commonly used by human traffickers to contact individuals seeking to arrange sex with a minor. In support of the victims, agents and detectives coordinated with a local rescue group working with local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies to provide hope, healing, and restoration to the survivors of human trafficking.

Two of the men arrested for arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes were found to be in possession of illegal firearms. In addition to state charges, the Eastern District of California United States Attorney’s Office may seek to file federal charges for qualifying cases.

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. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST or online.

For internet safety informational and training materials for all ages, please visit NetSmartz and iGuardians.

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.

HSI is a directorate of 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 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 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.