US authorities say 245 people have been arrested at home and abroad as part of an international crackdown on child pornography known as ‘Operation Sunflower’.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said 123 child victims were identified, some as young as two. Most were from the United States and around a third of those were rescued directly from their abusers. About a dozen of the victims were living in six countries outside the US.
“This operation is ultimately a tale of the perverse, pervasive and violent exploitation of children, very young children, to satisfy the dark pleasures of a group of twisted adults,” said ICE Director John Morton.
“The grim reality is that online child exploitation is a very real part of our modern lives and is going on throughout the world right now on a grand scale.”
Increased usage of the internet has allowed a much greater immediacy to pornography, Morton said, and in some cases child abuse is streamed live over the Internet.
Two adults have also been charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in online photos to be about 13 when she was abused. Their identities were not released.