General Crime

Federal crackdown on child sexual exploitation Nationwide, 245 suspects were identified in Operation Sunflower

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Four Bay Area men were arrested in a nationwide federal crackdown on child sexual exploitation, a local Homeland Security Investigations special agent said. Nationwide, 245 suspects were identified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations special agents during “Operation Sunflower” from Nov. 1 through Dec. 7, 2012.

In the Bay Area, men ranging in age from early 20s to early 50s were arrested in Rohnert Park, Pleasant Hill and Sebastopol. Residential information about the fourth arrestee was not immediately available, according to Deputy Special Agent in Charge Tatum King from the HSI San Francisco area office. Three of the men were arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography, while a fourth man was arrested for child sex tourism, according to King.

The sex tourism arrest stems from an investigation with Filipino authorities, King said The four men — all U.S. citizens — have been indicted, King said. In the Northern California region, based out of the San Francisco field office, 26 suspects were uncovered in the operation. King said this was the most arrests of any field office part of the crackdown.

Nationwide, 123 victims were identified which includes 44 children that were rescued from their abusers and 79 victims who were identified as either being exploited by others outside of their home and included 24 adults who were victimized as children, officials said. Some of the victims were as young as 3 years old. Seventy of the victims were female, while the remaining 53 were males, according to officials.

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