A five-county enforcement effort targeting internet crimes against children netted 141 arrests, authorities announced on Wednesday, Sept. 14.
“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.
The task force, led by the Los Angeles Police Department, covered Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The enforcement effort coincided with children returning to school.
The task force receives cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that involve the possession, distribution and manufacturing of child sexual-abuse material, and the sexual exploitation of children through the internet.
At a news conference Wednesday morning outside LAPD headquarters, LAPD Chief Michel Moore was accompanied by the leaders of numerous law enforcement organizations involved in the operation.
“In 2019, the Los Angeles task force … received 8,525 cyber tip leads (of) online and other sources of suspected child abuse, of child sexual-abuse material,” Moore said. “In 2020 that number had grown to more than 24,000. …
“This year, in 2022, already by Sept. 12, we have exceeded 25,000 tips and leads,” Moore said. “These cyber tip reports we believe will reach in excess of 36,000 by the end of this year.”
Moore urged parents and caregivers to sent tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or anonymously to crimestoppers.org.
Task force personnel also conducted compliance checks on those required to register as sex offenders with a tie to internet crimes.
“Multiple residential search warrants were served throughout the five counties, in addition to arrest warrants, which focused on child predators,” police said.
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The 141 arrests involved:
— 110 people on suspicion of possession, distribution or manufacturing of child pornography
— 10 people for alleged parole violation
— Eight people for alleged probation violation
— Six people for alleged sexual abuse of child/oral copulation
— Three people for alleged disorderly conduct
— Two people for alleged statuary rape
— Two people for alleged pimping
“While we will continue to investigate, we are looking for parents and caregivers’ partnership in our endeavor,” the LAPD said. “Parents are used to seeing children with an electronic device in their hands. Most of the time this enriches our children’s lives and helps with their education; however, parents and caregivers have to know that there can be danger awaiting their children on the internet.”