Operation Online Guardian
The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program was developed by the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The mission of the ICAC Task Force Program is to assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies with investigating Internet related crimes against our youth. Currently the ICAC Task Force Program consists of 61 coordinated task forces and over 5,400 federal, state, and local law enforcement members.
The Los Angeles Regional ICAC Task Force (LA ICAC), led by the Los Angeles Police Department covers five southern California counties (Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Ventura). The LA ICAC Task Force is currently comprised of 102 affiliate agencies.
The LAPD ICAC unit, as the lead agency, is the primary clearing house for all CyberTips, associated to the five southern California counties, received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The CyberTips include reports from various Internet Service Providers and citizens reporting incidents that involve the possession, distribution and manufacturing of child sexual abuse material, and the online sexual exploitation of children.
During the weeks of July 10, 2023 to July 21, 2023, the LA ICAC Task Force orchestrated the Operation Online Guardian, a multi-agency operation. The goal of operation was to identify and arrest predators who are using the internet to facilitate the sexual abuse of children and to rescue children from said predators. The operation was executed in two phases. The first phase included proactive Undercover investigations on a variety of Social Media platforms. The second phase included the service of multiple residential search warrants throughout the five counties, in addition to arrest warrants, which focused on child predators.
During the operation, our dedicated investigators demonstrated their unwavering commitment and compassion as they embarked on a critical mission to protect the innocent. Through their diligent efforts, vulnerable children were rescued from further abuse, and victims who had been silenced by the atrocious crimes of child sexual abuse found their voices restored. Justice was served during the Operation Online Guardian as numerous suspects, who sought to prey on our young through social media and chat applications, were apprehended and brought to face the consequences of their actions.
These significant achievements are a testament to the profound impact that this task force has made in safeguarding our communities and upholding the values we hold dear. Together, we continue to stand strong in the face of predators who seek to sexual exploit children, working tirelessly to create safer communities for all.
As a result of the collaborative efforts employed by the LA ICAC Task Force, specially trained digital forensic dogs, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and Los Angeles Police Department’s Gang and Narcotics Division, the following statistics during the operation period were achieved during the operational period.
Although Operation Online Guardian has concluded, the LA ICAC Task Force will remain vigilant and continue their mission to protect our children. Despite the numerous resources that assist the LA ICAC Task Force in the battle against the sexual exploitation of children, there are victims who are unnoticed. Therefore, we are asking the community for their help in this fight.
The internet has become an integral part of our lives and parents/caregivers should be aware of the potential dangers that exist on the internet. Parents and caregivers can help protect their children by educating themselves and their children on the dangers of the internet, monitoring you children’s internet usage, and having an open dialogue with your children to navigate around child predators.
The community is encouraged to visit: www.Missingkids.org/NetSmartz for educational internet safety tips and activities. The community may also report potential child sexual abuse activity and have the harmful matter removed via the service “Take it Down” hosted on the website www.takeitdown.ncmec.org. By reporting the potential child sexual abuse activity, you are giving a potential victim a voice when they are often silenced due to circumstance. “If you See Something, Say Something”.
The united efforts of the LA ICAC Task force and the community, in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children, will surely assist in keeping the child predators at bay and allow our children to explore the internet without fear.