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December 6, 2019Newark, NJ, United StatesChild Exploitation

ICE HSI Newark increases arrests for child exploitation while participating in Angel Watch Program

NEWARK, NJ — ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Newark announced Dec. 6, that agency arrests for child exploitation have increased for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 over last year. HSI Newark also announced that it actively participates in the Angel Watch Program (AWP), which targets individuals previously convicted of sexual crimes against a child, and who may pose a threat of committing child sex tourism.

Nationally, HSI arrests for child exploitation are up 19% from last year, 3,957 for FY 19 compared to 3,191 for FY 18. The number of indictments, convictions, and children rescued from child exploitation or identified as victims also increased. Locally, there was a 28.9% increase in convictions for child exploitation cases in New Jersey, from 84 in FY 18 to 107 in FY 19. In addition, six victims of child exploitation were identified and assisted by HSI Newark.

“Child exploitation, whether it be in the form of pornographic images, kidnapping, enslavement, or other forms, is one of the most disturbing crimes to confront as it involves the most vulnerable of our citizenry,” said Brian Michael, special agent in charge, HSI Newark. “We are proud of the work that has been done by our agents statewide to arrest perpetrators and turn them over to the justice system. In addition, it has been gratifying to work with the Angel Watch Program to proactively prevent further child exploitation here and across the world.”

In New Jersey, some of those arrested and/or sentenced in 2019 on child exploitation crimes included: Colin Skeele, a Morris County man sentenced to 180 months of incarceration and 20 years of supervised release on distribution of child pornography that included production of live child sex abuse through Skype with individuals in the Philippine; Richard Bly, a Massachusetts man sentenced to 235 months of incarceration and life of supervised release for attempted online enticement of a minor; Joseph Fini, a Camden County man sentenced to 240 months in prison for child pornography and obscenity offenses; and James Thiel, a Camden county man arrested on violations of sexual exploitation of children, part of which involved sexually assaulting a prepubescent male relative and recording the activity.

HSI takes a victim-centered approach to its child exploitation investigations by working to identify victims, offenders, and possible locations based on information extracted from images and/or videos. In FY 19, HSI identified or rescued 1,066 victims of child exploitation. In addition to the Angel Watch Program and the recently set up Angel Watch Center, HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other international, federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children.

Updated: 10/08/2020