ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Hundreds of suspected child predators are under arrest following a major sting operation.
Jessica Kartalija explains Maryland State Police played a crucial role in tracking down these suspects.
The operation worked to identify and rescue child victims being sexually exploited.
In just over a month, hundreds of suspected child predators were arrested.
“Far too many children are abused by sexual predators, then repeatedly re-abused through the online exchange of the underlying photographs and videos of their exploitation,” said John Morton.
Led by US immigration and customs officials, Operation iGuardian worked with Maryland’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to identify victims and their online predators.
Across the US, 255 suspected child predators were arrested and 61 victims of child exploitation were identified.
“This allows Maryland law enforcement to go after suspects in other states and when we have victims here and suspects in other states, we can go after them,” said State Police Superintendent Colonel Marcus Brown.
During the sting, investigators found predators producing and trading child pornography, attempting to meet and exploit children over the internet–what they call “sex-torting.”
Brown says parents are often unaware their children are being targeted.
Since 2000, Maryland’s task force has been responsible for 526 arrests.
“Primarily male suspects who are trying to set up meetings with young girls to have sex,” Brown said.
As internet use increases, tracking online predators is a top priority for law enforcement.
During the sting, five Marylanders were arrested; nine predators are from Washington, D.C.
Of the victims, four of them are under the age of three.