Working with over a dozen international agencies, investigators with the Department of Homeland Security identified 311 probable victims in "cold cases" of sexual exploitation, Scripps News reports. In early July, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) created "Operation Renewed Hope," examining explicit online content featuring minors. This content, which included numerous images and videos of abuse, was primarily located on the dark web and spanned several decades. Despite its age, the content played a crucial role in identifying the affected children, perpetrators, and locations where instances of abuse were either ongoing or had taken place, DHS said.
"These crimes, and the criminals who commit them, are pernicious, repugnant, and a scourge on the global communities we serve and seek to protect," said HSI's Katrina Berger. "Our HSI workforce is deeply committed to identifying, locating, and rescuing victims being abused and apprehending those who prey on the vulnerable. On this we cannot be more clear: If you are abusing or exploiting children, we will leverage every authority, partnership, and resource at our disposal to bring you to justice." Over 100 leads were shared with HSI field offices and 25 allied nations. Officials say that several suspects in Canada and the U.S. have already been arrested. During fiscal year 2022, the efforts of the Cyber Crimes Center and HSI field offices led to the "identification and/or rescue" of 1,170 child victims, along with the arrest of 4,459 individuals involved in crimes related to the sexual exploitation of minors.