Safe Families

Sep 12, 2013 11:40 AM by MELISSA CANONE

ICE launches app to locate predators, rescue children

NEW ORLEANS - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) launched a new smartphone app Thursday - the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement - designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators. All tips can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The most urgent case involves an unidentified man wanted for producing child pornography involving the sexual abuse of a 10 to 12-year-old girl. This "John Doe" is an unknown suspect and is believed to be living somewhere in the United States or Canada, but he could be anywhere in the world. The first of four video files was first discovered by Interpol and submitted to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2006. The series was last seen by HSI special agents in Los Angeles in 2013 during execution of a search warrant. The four videos show the prepubescent girl being sexually abused by an adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes. In the videos, the offender has a full beard and wears glasses. Both he and the child are seen in room with wood paneled walls with framed photos, a black computer, desk with sewing machine and brown patterned curtains.

In addition to profiling John Doe cases like this, the new smartphone app contains photos and information about known fugitives in HSI criminal cases involving sexually abused and exploited children.

"When children are being sexually abused and exploited, it's a race against the clock to rescue the child and bring the predator to justice," said ICE Acting Director John Sandweg. "These investigations are one of our highest priorities, and in today's world, we need to be technologically savvy and innovative in our approach."

ICE's Office of Public Affairs developed the app with special agents from HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and field offices across the country in order to seek the public's help with information about child predators wanted for criminal prosecution.

"The creation and launch of this application provides ICE another useful tool to reach the public," said ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale. "We recognize that people receive a great deal of information on their mobile devices and we are hopeful that this app will encourage them to submit tips about suspects and to learn more about our work investigating child exploitation crimes."

The Operation Predator App enables those who download it 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 enables users to view news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators and additional resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

Currently, the app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or iTunes. ICE is also planning to expand compatibility to other smartphones in the near future.

HSI is requesting that anyone with information about John Doe or the other fugitives profiled to contact the agency in one of two ways: Call the ICE Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day: (866) 347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada or (802) 872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or complete an online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips/.

Individuals should not attempt to apprehend the suspect personally.

HSI's Victim Identification Program seeks to rescue child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation and bring the perpetrators to justice.

These investigations are 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 encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

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