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 countries elsewhere.
Morton declined to provide specific details about which foreign countries were involved, saying only that there were some cases in Mexico.
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.
“We have to attack child exploitation relentlessly and together. There is no other way, there is no other answer,” Morton said. “It is a wrong among wrongs. We are literally defending the defenseless.”
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. The man and woman were identified only as “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” and authorities believe they may have been in the San Fernando Valley area north of Los Angeles when they abused the girl. Photos of the abuse investigators found online are believed to be about 11 years old, Morton said.