How Operation Sunflower Found 245 Online Sex-Predator Suspects


The same day last week that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the arrests of 245 people accused of exploiting and abusing children, a tip alerted authorities to arrest one more suspect: a woman in Los Angeles whom law enforcement had identified in photos posted online dating back to 2001 that allegedly show her sexually molesting a girl thought to be 13 years old, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

It’s an illustration of the complex effort that goes into pursuing online sexual predators who rely on computer technology to produce and distribute images of their abuse and are becoming more adept at hiding their identities. “Operation Sunflower” was a “surge operation” in which agents were encouraged to “really get down and look at who is in those photos,” says ICE’s Danielle Bennett. The increased effort resulted in finding 123 victims. Of that total, 44 were found living with their abusers and were removed from the homes. The others were exploited outside their own homes or are now adults.

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