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2,300 suspected child sex offenders arrested in nationwide sting

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee Nov. 14, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
July 09, 2018

The Department of Justice in June announced the arrest of more than 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders.

The nationwide sting took place over a three-month period and was conducted by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces, according to the Department of Justice.

The combined task forces were located in all 50 states and included more than 4,500 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies who identified 195 offenders.

The sting operation was known as “Broken Heart,” and it was carried out during March, April and May of this year.

The operation targeted suspects who: produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography; engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; engage in the sex trafficking of children; and travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children, the Justice Department said.

One of those arrested was a United States Secret Service employee, Jeffery Litteral, 52, from Denton. His charges included possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, possession of obscene material and distribution of obscene material, ABC 47 reported.

During the course of the operation, the task forces investigated more than 25,200 complaints of technology-facilitated crimes against children and delivered more than 3,700 presentations on Internet safety to at least 390,000 youth and adults.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse. And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated the spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production. We at the Department of Justice are determined to strike back against these repugnant crimes. It is shocking and very sad that in this one operation, we have arrested more than 2,300 alleged child predators and investigated some 25,200 sexual abuse complaints. Any would-be criminal should be warned: this Department will remain relentless in hunting down those who victimize our children.”

The sting was funded through the Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), which was launched to help federal, state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems or computer technology to exploit children.

To date, ICAC Task Forces have reviewed more than 775,000 complaints of child exploitation, which resulted in the arrest of more than 83,000 individuals.

In addition, since the ICAC program’s inception, more than 629,400 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute ICAC-related cases.