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November 6, 2015Grand Rapids, MI, United StatesChild Exploitation

West Michigan fugitives surrender after being profiled on ICE's smartphone app to locate accused child predators

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A west Michigan pair, who absconded during a federal child pornography investigation, are in custody at Calhoun County Corrections Friday after they surrendered to local authorities.

Normann Pittelkow, 42, and Nicole Jacob, 35, were the latest fugitives to be profiled late last week on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Operation Predator smartphone app, seeking public tips about at-large and unknown child predator suspects. The suspects are the targets of a federal investigation being led by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Authorities followed up on several tips in the intervening week since the pair was added to the Operation Predator app but their exact whereabouts remained unknown. They surrendered to local authorities Friday morning and are being held on state charges.

According to state court records, they are accused of producing images and video of material involving the sexual abuse of minors. Following a Sept. 27 search by the Albion Police of the pair’s Albion, Michigan, residence in connection with the probe, officers seized several computers and mobile devices, which contained child pornography. They were charged by federal criminal complaint Oct. 23 for producing and conspiring to produce child pornography.

"The public pressure put on fugitives through traditional and social media has proved once again to be a game changer in one our investigations. “We know that our public appeal played a key role in these fugitives surrendering today," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge for HSI Detroit.

“Albion Public Safety would like to thank HSI for their assistance in this investigation,” said Chief Scott Kipp. “As a result of their bringing increased awareness to this case, enough pressure was put on the suspects to turn themselves in.”

Within 36 hours of its launch in 2013, the app helped Detroit HSI special agents apprehend a Michigan man, who was later convicted and sentenced on child pornography charges.

Late last year, officials attributed pressure from social media for the surrender of an Ohio fugitive, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence.

ICE's Operation Predator App allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app allows users to view news about the arrest and prosecution of child predators and obtain information about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

The smartphone app is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide 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.

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.