In a massive collaborative effort spanning five counties and involving 64 law enforcement agencies, the Los Angeles Regional ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force has arrested 141 people, with 110 of these arrests were connected to the possession, distribution, or manufacturing of child pornography.
The investigation, called Operation Protect the Innocent, made use of CyberTips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Law enforcement says the data helped in identifying 657 targets, 510 of whom were contacted between September 6 and September 12, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a press release Wednesday. In addition to child pornography, other charges involved pimping, statutory rape, and sex abuse.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the vast array of suspects includes a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy and a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center pediatrician in possession of over 600 sexually explicit images of children.
The task force was developed in 1998 by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In a news conference on Wednesday, LAPD Capt. Jeff Bratcher said that within the first year of starting the LAPD’s ICAC, they received 458 tips. “In 2019, that number rose to 8,500. In 2020, 2021, both years, were over 24,000,” he said. He estimated they would receive over 36,000 CyberTips by the end of 2022, the Times reports.
As investigations continue, the LAPD urged parents and guardians to stay vigilant.
“Parents are used to seeing children with an electronic device in their hands, most of the time this enriches children’s lives,” the department stated. “However, parents and caregivers have to know that there can be danger awaiting their children on the internet.”
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