Monday, December 13, 2010

Boston-area child sexual exploitation investigation leads to arrests in the Netherlands

BOSTON - Special agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston, along with Massachusetts State Police (MSP) detectives assigned to the Worcester District Attorney's Office, conducted advanced computer forensics on a computer seized in a child sexual exploitation investigation in the Boston-area. After intensive investigative work, HSI special agents and the MSP, working with Interpol and Dutch authorities, were able to track these photos to the Netherlands. Dutch officials consequently arrested a 27-year-old daycare center employee who confessed to dozens of sex crimes with children.

During their search of computer files, HSI special agents in Boston discovered a series of child sexual exploitation files. These files are known to include pictures, and videos of an adult male who is sexually abusing two-year-old boy. Special agents determined that the photos did not appear to be from the United States.

 In coordination with the ICE HSI Cyber Crimes Center (C3), HSI agents shared an edited image on INTERPOL's secure system for law enforcement officials in order to solicit assistance to identify the origin of the photo. As a result, the National Police Services Agency (KLPD-Ipol) in the Netherlands recognized the photos of being Dutch in origin. Additional photos were securely shared with KLPD-Ipol officials, who positively confirmed that these images originated from their country.

On Dec. 7, 2010, the national television station in the Netherlands ran a story seeking public assistance to identify the two-year-old child. KLPD-Ipol immediately received a call identifying the child.

Shortly thereafter, on the same evening, KLPD-Ipol, along with Amsterdam Police, arrested a 27-year-old suspect. The suspect had babysat the victim and had worked at at least two daycare centers in Amsterdam. He also offered his services online as a babysitter.

The man's computers were seized and will be searched for evidence of child sexual exploitation and he has since confessed to dozens of sex crimes allegedly committed over the past year and a half. On Sunday, more than 50 parents were also informed that the suspect has either confessed to abusing their children or was thought to have done so.

KLPD-Ipol also arrested the suspect's 37-year-old partner on suspicion of possession of child pornography. He is not suspected of physically molesting children. A 39-year-old employee of one of the daycare centers where the suspect worked was also arrested after allegedly attempting an "indecent" online chat.

"This arrest underlines the fact that there will be no refuge for child sexual predators who believe that they pursue their perverse behavior with impunity online," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Boston. Foucart oversees ICE HSI throughout New England. "Law enforcement agencies will continue to work tirelessly across jurisdictions and national boundaries to protect children anywhere in the world. I commend the collaboration of our agents and our law enforcement partners who were able to track down this child predator."

ICE HSI in Boston, C3, Interpol, KLPD-Ipol, Amsterdam Police and ICE's attache office in The Hague continue to follow-up on all investigative leads in this case.

C3's Child Exploitation Section (CES) investigates the trans-border large scale production and distribution of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading. These investigative activities are organized under Operation Predator, a program managed by the CES.

Operation Predator is a nationwide ICE 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.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

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