Almost 200 held in child porn raids

Sat, Jun 9, 2012, 01:00

US federal agents arrested 190 people in four countries last month during an operation targeting an international child pornography ring.

Those arrested possessed, distributed or produced photographs or videos of child pornography. Some of the suspects had sexually assaulted minors or engaged in "illegal sexual enticement," according to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which conducted Operation Orion.

Besides the arrests in the United States, suspects were apprehended in Spain, the Philippines, Argentina and the United Kingdom, the agency said.

ICE said that 18 minors were rescued by agents as part of the month-long intensive effort.

Operation Orion, named for a hunter in Greek mythology, was conducted by an ICE investigations unit that investigates large-scale production and distribution of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors.

An ICE spokeswoman said that the agency in recent years had been making about 1,000 arrests annually of suspected child predators, although that number spiked last year to 1,455.

Those arrested included a 35-year-old babysitter in Louisiana suspected of using a seven-year-old child to make pornography.

A 28-year-old man in Michigan was found to have more than 1,200 images and 109 videos of child sex abuse on computers and media storage devices, officials said.

Eight men were also arrested in Los Angeles, including one who met his alleged 12-year-old victim on the internet.

He was charged with enticing a minor to commit lewd acts after agents pretended to be the girl online and arranged to meet him at a shopping centre.

Agencies