A joint operation by Brazil and the United States has led to the arrest of 113 people suspected of producing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and sharing it online.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Brazil Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) Secretariat for Integrated Operation (SEOPI) Cyber Laboratory made the arrests across the US and South America between November 2 and November 6 as part of Operation Protected Childhood’s seventh phase.
OPC VII, which simultaneously targeted the distributors and producers of CSAM throughout the Americas, 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.
In the United States, HSI offices in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado, and Florida executed 13 child exploitation–related search warrants and made nine arrests for child exploitation offenses.
HSI Raleigh and the Cary Police Department made an arrest on November 6 after receiving a lead from C3 that the suspect was posting CSAM in chat rooms on the social media app Kik. Forensics uncovered hundreds of indecent images of minors, including some naked photographs of the suspect’s own children.
In Brownsville, Pennsylvania, a search warrant was executed regarding the possession and distribution of CSAM following information supplied by Kik Inc that a suspect had used its site to share indecent images of children.
In Florida’s Panama City, a suspect was arrested by Lynn Haven Police Department following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that CSAM was being distributed via Facebook’s Messenger app.
Information supplied by Twitter and HSI McAllen, Texas, led to the execution of a search warrant for possession and distribution of CSAM in West Hills, California, where a suspect had allegedly used Twitter’s direct messaging to share sexually explicit images of children.
OPC was launched in March 2015 by HSI Brazil in partnership with Brazil’s MJSP Cyber Lab to increase the effectiveness of investigations into online child exploitation. Since 2017, the operation has resulted in 781 arrests, 1,383 executed search warrants, and the rescue of dozens of minor victims.