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245 arrested in child porn sweep

Jan. 3, 2013 at 4:13 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. immigration officials said Thursday 245 people were arrested and 123 alleged victims have been identified in an investigation into child pornography.

Operation Sunflower -- an international operation conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations working with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children One -- was carried out Nov. 1 through Dec. 7, ICE announced in a news release.

The agency said 44 children were rescued from their alleged abusers and 79 were identified as either having been exploited outside their homes or having grown into adulthood following abuse as children. Of the 123 alleged victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.

Five were less than 3 years of age, nine were ages 4-6, 21 were ages 7-9, 11 were ages 10-12, 38 were ages 13-15, and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four are adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.

Operation Sunflower was named for a 2011 incident in which a sunflower-shaped highway road sign played a key role in the rescue of an 11-year-old girl in Kansas, ICE said.

Further victim identification and rescue efforts will be executed under Operation Predator, the news release said.

ICE said it was appealing for help from the public in developing leads on more child pornography cases.

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