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USA: Operation Predator arrests top 4,000

Publish Date: 17 Sep 2004

Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
News Release

OPERATION PREDATOR ARRESTS TOP 4,000 NATIONWIDE
More than 1,500 deported; Thousands more face immigration, criminal charges

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Arrests of child sex offenders and other sexual predators under the "Operation Predator" initiative went over the 4,000 mark this week, Michael J. Garcia, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today.

In just over one year, ICE agents have arrested 4,045 individuals. Of this number, more than 1,500 foreign national sexual predators have been deported and thousands more face immigration or criminal proceedings. In addition, foreign law enforcement officials, acting on ICE leads, have arrested more than 750 sexual predators in their respective countries.

"These 4,000 Operation Predator arrests are an outstanding achievement as well as a sobering statistic. We have taken 4,000 of the worst criminals off the street, but we also realize how much more work we have to do," said Assistant Secretary Garcia. "Child sex predators can come from all walks of life and we know from the arrests we have made that they can occupy positions of trust in the community - as doctors, as teachers, as youth leaders, as ministers and clergy. That makes the work we are doing in Operation Predator all the more urgent."

Operation Predator was launched in July 2003 by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Assistant Secretary Garcia to draw upon ICE's unique law enforcement authorities to identify, investigate, arrest and, in the case of foreign nationals, deport child sex predators. Operation Predator's reach extends beyond our borders through ICE's international law enforcement presence as well as targets the borderless Internet through the ICE Cyber Crime Center.

Those arrested under Operation Predator fall into four general categories:

    Foreign National Child Predators: More than half of the arrests made as part of Operation Predator have been arrests of foreign national sex offenders whose crimes make them removable from the United States. To date, more than 1,500 of these predators have been deported. Examples include a Los Angeles man who repeatedly molested his own daughter and an Austrian-national soccer coach convicted of repeatedly fondling a mentally impaired minor.

    International Child Sex Tourists: Working cooperatively with foreign governments, ICE agents made the first six arrests under the new child sex tourism provisions of the PROTECT Act. The first of those arrested, Michael Lewis Clark, 70, was sentenced in June 2004 to 97 months in jail for traveling to Cambodia and engaging in illegal sexual activity with two boys aged 10 and 13. Clark is suspected of molesting as many as 50 children.

    Human Smuggling and Trafficking of Children: The criminal networks engaged in human smuggling and trafficking have become more violent and ruthless, and their victims are getting younger and younger. In one recent case, a predator tried to purchase nine-to-eleven year old girls from Mexico. ICE agents arrested the individual when he traveled to Arizona to have sex with the girls.

    Internet Child Pornography: Drawing on ICE's cyber crime investigative expertise, ICE is tackling the crimes that cross the nation's virtual borders. One way we are helping to investigate crimes against children and help recover children who may have been abused is through the National Child Victim Identification System, where more than 1,230 children have been identified in pornographic images. A recent investigation into a Belarus-based Internet billing company has resulted in nearly 900 arrests - 140 in the U.S. and more than 750 by foreign law enforcement acting on leads from the ICE investigation. Those arrested have included a California 7th grade teacher, the chief of pediatric medicine at a New York hospital, a minister at an all-girls school in New Jersey, a Louisiana Catholic priest, a Nevada camp counselor, a Buffalo police officer, a New Jersey Boy Scout volunteer and a Chicago school principal.

States with the largest numbers of predator arrests are as follows: Arizona (174), California (1115), Colorado (109), Florida (168), Illinois (153), Michigan (103), Minnesota (120), New Jersey (297), New York (252), and Texas (376).

Members of the public wishing to report suspicious activity may contact ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or Operation.Predator@dhs.gov. Additionally, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an ICE partner on Operation Predator, can be contacted at 1-800-843-5678 or www.cybertipline.com. Additional information about Operation Predator is posted at www.ice.gov.

http://www.ice.gov/graphics/news/newsreleases/articles/predator091704.htm 

© 2004 ICE