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Saturday, June 22, 2024

HSI, Partners Conduct US-based International Victim Identification Surge

Results in development of over 414 leads worldwide related to child sexual abuse

The Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Cyber Crimes Center’s (C3) Child Exploitation Investigations Unit conducted Operation Renewed Hope II, from Feb. 26 through March 8, resulting in the location and positive identification of 19 previously unknown child sexual abuse victims, which includes 8 victims rescued from active abuse.

The operation was the second of its kind held in the United States. HSI hosted international law enforcement agencies, who worked together on hundreds of cold cases involving previously unknown victims of online child sexual exploitation and abuse. Cold cases are unsolved criminal investigations that remain open pending discovery of new evidence.

The operation combined the efforts of the world’s leading experts in the investigation of online child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as child victim identification to address the cold case files.

“Every day, the incredible men and women of HSI prevent children from being exploited online. These members of our workforce are heroes,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The victims of these heinous acts will receive our unwavering support as we work to bring the perpetrators to justice. We owe a debt of gratitude to HSI and to our many international partners whose continued support and coordination strengthen our law enforcement efforts.”

“The exploitation of innocent children is a global issue that requires worldwide efforts to combat,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Katrina W. Berger. “HSI is committed to continuing our work with U.S. and international partners to identify and rescue victims while bringing to justice those criminals who exploit children.”

HSI and partners analyzed 95,567 files comprised of 121 GB of data – the equivalent of about 64 hours of streamed video footage. The files contained previously seized unidentified images and video series of child sex abuse material, each series containing one to hundreds of images and videos, to identify children and offenders, along with the locations where the abuse occurred. Analysts created lead packages for appropriate investigative partners in the furtherance of associated law enforcement actions.

The operation generated 285 foreign and 129 domestic leads containing the location and probable identities of children were generated through sophisticated investigative techniques targeting offenders who operate via the internet, which includes the use of forums, websites, email, chat rooms and file-sharing applications. Leads are compared against images of unidentified children and offenders in Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation Database and then disseminated globally to HSI field offices and 18 partnering countries.

Operation Renewed Hope II consisted of HSI special agents, victim identification specialists, computer forensic analysts, and criminal analysts who worked side by side with domestic partners from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; the International Center for Missing & Exploited Children in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation; the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section; Thomson Reuters Special Services; the FBI and the Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

International partners included 27 victim identification specialists from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and United Kingdom, representing the following agencies:

Interpol, Europol, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Crime Agency, Australian Federal Police, Gendarmerie Nationale, An Garda Siochana, Belgium Federal Judicial Police, Bundeskriminalamt, Dutch National Police, Police and Border Guard of Estonia, Royal Thai Police, Swedish National Police, Spanish National Police, Guardia Civil, State Police of Latvia, Metropolitan Police Service, Policia Judiciaria (Portugal), Victoria Police, Federal Police of Brazil, French National Department for the Protection of Children/National Directorate of the Judicial Police and the Polish National Police.

HSI is the global leader in the investigation of online child sexual exploitation and abuse and in fiscal year 2023, its efforts resulted in the identification and/or rescue of 1,806 child victims in child exploitation investigations, supported 6,601 new child exploitation investigations and the arrest of 4,214 individuals for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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