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Encyclopedia > Operation Predator

Operation Predator is an initiative started in July 9, 2003 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (or ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to protect children from sexual predators.

Operation Predator targets foreign nationals, child traffickers, child-sex tourists, and people involved in all levels of child pornography, from producers to distributors to consumers.

To date they claim over 4,000 convictions. Over 1,000 of those convictions occurred within the first three months of their inception. More than half of their convictions have been against foreign nationals, who are deported from the United States after they serve their time. They've also made arrests against human smugglers and child pornographers.

Operation Predator has become the main force behind President Bush's Protect Act, which makes it illegal for Americans to travel abroad in order to have sex with a minor. This growing sex tourism industry is fueled by citizens of wealthy countries (mostly Americans at an estimated 25% of all offenders) going to places such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Costa Rica for their believed lax child protection laws or corrupt enforcement. Those three nations have been working with ICE and World Vision on a public awareness campaign to stop this industry. Cambodia and Mexico had been working closely with ICE to stop child sex tourism in their countries.

Some of Operation Predator's other major successes to date include a single web portal to various Megan's Law databases and creating a National Child Victim Identification System. On the internation front they've increased cooperation with INTERPOL and various international governments to combat child pornography and child sex tourism.

The Department of Justice estimates that somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 U.S. children are sexually exploitated every year. The United Nations estimates that one million children are forced into prostitution every year. ICE estimates that child sex tourism victimizes upwards of 2 millions children a year.

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