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ICE announces rescue of over 1,000 children from exploitation – and the arrests of thousands of accused predators

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday that it had arrested over 3,700 accused child predators over the past fiscal year while rescuing over 1,000 victims.

A news release from the agency's offices in Seattle explains that its Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) department initiated 4,224 child exploitation investigations, resulting in 3,771 criminal arrests and 1,066 rescued victims during fiscal year 2019, which ended in September.

Some of the cases listed in the release include:

A 44-year-old man sentenced to 270 years in federal prison "for the repeated sexual abuse, exploitation and torture of three young children."

A 54-year-old man who "photographed and saved images of his molestation of minor victims between the ages of 13 and 16."

A 36-year-old man given a 20-year sentence for child pornography charges.

A situation where HSI agents identified and rescued two victims of a registered sex offender, "one of which was his own infant daughter."

“HSI is committed to eradicating individuals from our communities who seek to prey on children,” said acting special agent in charge of HSI Seattle Eben Roberts. “HSI’s agents, in cooperation with our law enforcement partners, work tirelessly to find and bring to justice, individuals who commit these heinous crimes.  Moreover, we are dedicated to rescuing from harm’s way our most precious population – our children – and those who seek to harm them should consider this a warning.”

The news from Seattle came on the same day that ICE announced the opening of its new "Angel Watch Center" near the nation's capital, in Fairfax, Virginia. The center, which is an addition to the agency's Cyber Crimes Center, is meant to bolster ICE agents' "ability to safeguard innocent children from falling victim to dangerous predators," according to a separate news release.

Acting ICE director Matthew Albence explained that "the primary responsibility of the Angel Watch Center is to provide notification to foreign countries regarding the anticipated travel of convicted and registered child sex offenders."

While the agency is most known for its duty to enforce immigration law, Albence also explained Thursday that "ICE HSI analysts, investigators and special agents possess unique law enforcement authorities concerning cross-border criminal activity and have longstanding jurisdiction to investigate traveling sex offenders."

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