Los Angeles

Task Force Arrests Hundreds For Internet Crimes Against Children

A tourist who came from overseas with the alleged intent to enslave a child for sexual abuse is among 238 suspects arrested in the Los Angeles area during the past two months by the the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, officials said Monday.

The man had engaged in online communications "to buy" a 6-year-old boy, according to John Reynolds, acting special agent in charge of the Los Angeles field office of Homeland Security Investigations.

Others arrested during the crackdown operation included a monk allegedly in possession of child pornography at a Riverside monastery, Reynolds said.  At Monday's news conference, he did not name the monk or the man from overseas.

In another child pornography case that dates to last December, a federal grand jury returned a two count indictment of Mark Salling, an actor known for his work in the TV program "Glee." Earlier this month, Salling pleaded not guilty and was scheduled for trial next month.  

Across the nation, all 61 regional task forces of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) law enforcement network participated  in "Operation Broken Heart III" during April and May.

The largest percentage of the cases involve possession and distribution of child pornography.

At Monday's briefing in Los Angeles, the task force allowed news media a look inside an RV that has been outfitted to serve as a mobile forensics lab.

Installed computer equipment enables investigators conducting search warrants to bring with them the tools required to search digital device for evidence of child pornography, said Brian Arnett, an LAPD officer and digital forensics expert assigned to the task force. The RV also affords room to conduct interviews with suspects and others.  

It's believed the majority of child pornography is created in Eastern Europe, and initially distributed from there, Arnett said.

Of even greater concern to the task force are predators who attempt to contact or enslave children, engaging in crimes that include sexual exploitation, child prostitution, and sex tourism.

In publicizing the arrests, the task force hopes to raise awareness and encourage parents to speak with their children about avoiding dangers when they go online, said Reynolds.

The message: "Think before you click."   

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