LOS ANGELES (CNS) — A five-county law enforcement operation targeting cybercrimes against children resulted in 141 arrests, authorities said on Wednesday.
“Operation Protect the Innocent” was conducted Sept. 6-12 by personnel from the Los Angeles Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes more than five dozen law enforcement agencies, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD-led task force covers Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, and recent enforcement efforts have coincided with children returning to school in many jurisdictions, according to the LAPD.
The Task Force receives cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding the possession, distribution and manufacture of child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation material online.
At a press conference Wednesday morning outside LAPD headquarters, LAPD Chief Michel Moore was joined by heads of numerous law enforcement agencies involved in the operation.
“In 2019, the Los Angeles Task Force received … 8,525 leads to cyber tips (from) online and other sources of suspected child abuse, child sexual abuse material,” Moore said. “By 2020, that number had grown to more than 24,000, nearly tripled.
“This year, in 2022, we already surpassed 25,000 tips and clues on September 12,” Moore said. “We believe these cyber tip reports will reach more than 36,000 by the end of this year.”
Moore urged parents and caregivers to send tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or to www.LAcrimestoppers.org.
During the operation, task force personnel also conducted compliance reviews on those required to register as sex offenders “related to cybercrime,” the LAPD said.
“In addition to warrants focused on child molestation, multiple search warrants were served across the five counties,” police said.
Officials released the following details of the 141 arrests:
- 110 people were arrested on suspicion of possession, distribution or production of child pornography;
- 10 people arrested for alleged parole violations;
- eight people arrested for alleged probation violations;
- six people arrested on alleged child sexual abuse/oral copulation;
- three people were arrested for alleged disorderly conduct;
- two people were arrested for alleged rape; and
- Two people were arrested for alleged pimping.
“As we continue the investigation, we are seeking a partnership between parents and caregivers in our endeavor,” the LAPD said.
“Parents are used to seeing children with electronic devices in their hands. Most often this enriches our children’s lives and helps in their education; However, parents and carers need to know that there may be dangers waiting for their children online,” the department continued.
Parents and carers were encouraged to visit www.Missingkids.org/NetSmartz for age-appropriate educational activities for children and adults.
The ICAC Program Task Force was developed in 1998 by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Its purpose is to assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in investigating Internet-related crimes against youth.
As lead agency, LAPD’s ICAC unit is responsible for a federal grant through the OJJDP and a state grant through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.