Feds launch predator app on iTunes to catch child sex criminals

Sep 12, 2013
Crime
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Thursday that it has launched a mobile device app to harness the public’s help in trying to track down potential child sex predators in urgent cases.

The app, which ICE said allows tips to be reported anonymously 24 hours a day, builds on a recent program where the agency has released photos of persons it believes are involved in child pornography or sex abuse. That program has helped snare several alleged predators and rescue children from those situations, ICE said.

 Convicted Sex Offender Homer Lee Garren Jr, Ex-Husband of Desi Foxx

Convicted Sex Offender Homer Lee Garren Jr, Ex-Husband of Desi Foxx

“When children are being sexually abused and exploited, it’s a race against the clock to rescue the child and bring the predator to justice,” ICE Acting Director John Sandweg said. “These investigations are one of our highest priorities, and in today’s world, we need to be technologically savvy and innovative in our approach.”ICE officials highlighted the most urgent case the app will profile: an unknown suspect they believe is producing child pornography with a girl who appears to be between 10 and 12 years of age.The agency released a photo and description of the man from videos: “The four videos show the prepubescent girl being sexually abused by an adult male with short brown hair and blue eyes. In the videos, the offender has a full beard and wears glasses. Both he and the child are seen in room with wood paneled walls with framed photos, a black computer, desk with sewing machine and brown patterned curtains.”predator-1_s640x1105

The Operation Predator App, as the agency has dubbed it, is available on Apple’s iTunes or App Store now, and ICE said it plans to expand the app to other smartphones soon.

The app allows people to easily share the latest alerts on their own social media profiles or to email them around to friends, tapping their own networks to help authorities.

The project grew out of the success ICE has already had harnessing social media to catch predators over the last year. ICE began sharing images taken from apparent child pornography videos and photos and asked the public for help in identifying the people involved, and they were impressed by how eager the public was to help.

“We’d get actionable intelligence on the location and identities of these individuals literally hours after we shared their photos through traditional and social media,” said Gilliam Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE. “The idea for the app grew out of those experiences. We saw how valuable it was to utilize citizens as force multipliers for our investigators in these situations.”

In addition to sending around the latest potential predator cases, the app also will highlight other wanted fugitives.

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