Thursday, April 19, 2018

Hundreds arrested in child exploitation investigation

WASHINGTON — More than 200 adults have been arrested in an international investigation of child pornography, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday.

The agency's director, John Morton, said 123 child victims were identified during the five-week investigation, which ended in early December. ICE and local authorities found 110 victims in 19 U.S. states, while the others were living in six other countries, including Mexico.

The victims ranged in age from less than 1 to 17 years old. Morton said 44 of the victims were living with their accused abusers.

The investigation, dubbed "Operation Sunflower," was part of ICE's effort to find and rescue victims, and arrest abusers and people who make or transmit child pornography.

Morton also announced arrest warrants for two unidentified adults charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in online photos to be about 13 when she was abused about a decade ago.

Among those arrested were 51-year-old Gerald Roberts, of Pageland, S.C., who is accused of producing child pornography using a 6-year-old girl. Roberts, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested Nov. 8 and is facing federal charges. His attorney, Michael Allen Meetze, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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