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NYC child porn investigation leads to 70 arrests, including police officer, Boy Scout leader

NEW YORK -  A senior official from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced on Wednesday the arrest of 71 individuals for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children in Operation Caireen, the largest-ever enforcement operation in New York targeting predators who possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children.

Among those arrested were several prominent people including a police officer, a Boy Scout leader and a rabbi. 

As part of Operation Caireen, which began April 4 and ran until May 15, HSI special agents, New York City Police Department detectives and other law enforcement partners surreptitiously infiltrated peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks to identify users in the New York City metropolitan area who sought to acquire or distribute known or suspected images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit activities. Throughout the course of the operation, investigators identified nearly 150 distinct Internet Protocol addresses actively involved in trading sexually explicit images of children registered to users in the New York City metropolitan area. In addition to the 71 arrests, investigators lawfully seized nearly 600 computing devices during the execution of 87 search warrants, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and thumb drives containing more than 175 terabytes of data that includes tens of thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children. Some of the defendants arrested possessed libraries of sexually explicit images and videos of children numbering in the thousands.

One of the defendants had been previously convicted of sexually abusing a child; another is charged with producing and distributing child pornography involving her own young child.

Several of the defendants facing charges held positions of public trust, including two police officers, two registered nurses, a paramedic, an au pair, and an individual who served as both a den master with the Boy Scouts of America and a little league baseball coach.

"The sheer volume of confirmed and suspected instances of individuals engaging in the sexual exploitation of children identified through Operation Caireen is shocking and the professional backgrounds of many of the defendants is troubling. We can no longer assume that the only people who would stoop to prey on children are unemployed drifters," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "Clearly, this criminal activity has reached epidemic proportions and ICE HSI will continue to partner across jurisdictions to target those adults who egregiously violate the children of our communities."

Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said, "The individuals identified today allegedly utilized the Internet to possess, distribute and promote horrific acts against defenseless victims. The indictments represent a strong collaborative effort between law enforcement partners, sending the message to sexual predators that abuse against children is beyond reproach and violators will be vigorously sought and brought to justice."