U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – in collaboration with the Brazil Ministry of Justice and the Public Security (MJSP) Secretariat for Integrated Operation (SEOPI) Cyber Laboratory – arrested 113 alleged child predators across the U.S. and in South America, Nov. 2 to 6, during phase seven of Operation Protected Childhood (OPC VII).
OPC VII simultaneously targeted the distributors and producers of child sexual abuse material throughout the Americas. The operation was conducted across multiple ICE HSI domestic field offices and executed in coordination with the agency’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and with law enforcement counterparts in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Panama.
“This collaborative effort by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and its foreign law enforcement partners has put dangerous criminals behind bars and, most importantly, has led to the rescue of innocent children,” said ICE Attach√© for Brazil and Bolivia, Robert Fuentes Jr. “Thank you to our Brazilian partners for their unwavering efforts over the last five years to combat child exploitation through Operation Protected Childhood. And to our partners who have most recently joined our operation, we look forward to the continued fight and relentless effort to put a stop to this horrific crime.”
OPC was initiated in March 2015 by HSI Brazil in partnership with Brazil’s MJSP Cyber Lab to increase the effectiveness of online child exploitation investigations. These efforts are a product of HSI’s continued investment in building partner capacity in Brazil. Since 2015, HSI and its partners have launched multiple phases of OPC and have recently expanded the operation to a larger multinational enforcement action.
During OPC VII, HSI offices in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado and Florida executed a combined 13 child exploitation-related search warrants and made nine arrests for child exploitation offenses. These executions were simultaneous with the enforcement actions made by Brazilian authorities and international law enforcement partners in Argentina, Paraguay, and Panama with the support of our HSI presence overseas.
In addition, HSI Brasilia has partnered closely with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Child Rescue Coalition to combat child exploitation through the use of Child Protection Software (CPS). Between fiscal years 2016 and 2019, HSI Brasilia provided eleven technical training exercises on the use of the CPS to law enforcement agencies in Brazil and other nations across Latin America, leading to multiple investigations into child exploitation offenses in their respective countries.
The efforts of HSI, CPS, and both domestic and international law enforcement has generated a significant increase in the number of child exploitation investigations and arrests conducted throughout the region. Since 2017, OPC has resulted in a total of approximately 781 arrests, 1,383 executed search warrants, and dozens of minor victims rescued.
The HSI International Operations Division is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative presence overseas. Division personnel serve as liaisons to governments and law enforcement agencies across the globe and work side-by-side with foreign law enforcement on HSI investigations. HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats.
For further information on this Press Release, please contact the U.S. Embassy Press Office in Brasília at BrasiliaEMBEUA@state.gov or on (+55 61) 3312 – 7367 / 7350 / 7364. Follow us on Twitter and Flickr.