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World News

ICE, and international partners arrest 113 alleged child predators

The HSI International Operations Division is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative presence overseas.

WASHINGTON (DC): Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – in collaboration with the Brazil Ministry of Justice and the Public Security (MJSP) Secretariat for Integrated Operation (SEOPI) Cyber Laboratory – arrested 113 alleged child predators across the U.S. and in South America, Nov. 2 to 6, during phase seven of Operation Protected Childhood (OPC VII)., according to a news release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.

OPC VII simultaneously targeted the distributors and producers of child sexual abuse material throughout the Americas. The operation was conducted across multiple ICE HSI domestic field offices and executed in coordination with the agency’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) and with law enforcement counterparts in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Panama., the release said.

“This collaborative effort by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and its foreign law enforcement partners has put dangerous criminals behind bars and, most importantly, has led to the rescue of innocent children,” said ICE Attaché for Brazil and Bolivia, Robert Fuentes Jr. “Thank you to our Brazilian partners for their unwavering efforts over the last five years to combat child exploitation through Operation Protected Childhood. And to our partners who have most recently joined our operation, we look forward to the continued fight and relentless effort to put a stop to this horrific crime.”

According to federal officials, OPC was initiated in March 2015 by HSI Brazil in partnership with Brazil’s MJSP Cyber Lab to increase the effectiveness of online child exploitation investigations. These efforts are a product of HSI’s continued investment in building partner capacity in Brazil. Since 2015, HSI and its partners have launched multiple phases of OPC and have recently expanded the operation to a larger multinational enforcement action.

During OPC VII, HSI offices in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, California, Colorado and Florida executed a combined 13 child exploitation-related search warrants and made nine arrests for child exploitation offenses. These executions were simultaneous with the enforcement actions made by Brazilian authorities and international law enforcement partners in Argentina, Paraguay, and Panama with the support of our HSI presence overseas.

HSI Raleigh, North Carolina, Nov. 6: HSI and the Cary Police Department executed a federal arrest warrant on a suspect for the production, transportation, and possession of child pornography. HSI Raleigh received a lead from C3 regarding a suspect posting child pornography in Kik chat rooms. Forensics located hundreds of images of child pornography, to include several naked images of his children. A warrant was subsequently issued for the subject’s arrest.

HSI Panama City, Florida, Nov. 5: HSI and the Lynn Haven Police Department executed a residential search warrant for possession and distribution of child pornography. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provided information indicating that the target of investigation had used the Facebook Messenger app to distribute files of child pornography. One individual was arrested on scene for child exploitative material. Two additional individuals were arrested during the search warrant for narcotics possession.

HSI Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Knoxville Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)Task Force, Nov. 6: HSI and the Knoxville ICAC Task Force executed a federal search warrant at a local residence regarding peer to peer file sharing software and child pornography on his computer.

HSI Nashville, Tennessee, Nov. 4: HSI, FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office executed a multi-agency residential search warrant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, concerning the accessing of child exploitation Darknet websites.

HSI Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nov. 5: HSI executed a residential search warrant for the possession and distribution of child pornography in Brownsville, Pennsylvania. HSI Pittsburgh initiated an investigation on a suspect based on lead information provided by Kik, Inc, indicating that the suspect had used the Kik app to distribute files of child pornography.

HSI Northridge, California, Nov 4: HSI executed a residential search warrant for possession and distribution of child pornography in West Hills, California. HSI Northridge initiated an investigation at the residence based on lead information provided by HSI McAllen, Texas and Twitter, indicating that a target at the residence had used Twitter direct messaging to distribute files of child pornography.

HSI Denver, Colorado, Nov. 6: HSI’s Colorado Cyber Guardian Task Force executed four federal search warrants in the Denver metro area based on the exchange of images of child sexual abuse material.

HSI international partner enforcement actions as part of OPC VII include:

Brazil (HSI Brasilia): 137 child exploitation related search warrants and 74 arrests
Argentina

(HSI Buenos Aires): 37 child exploitation related search warrants and 23 arrests
Paraguay (HSI Buenos Aires): 2 child exploitation related search warrants and 2 arrests
Panama

(HSI Panama City): 7 child exploitation related search warrants and 5 arrests

In addition, HSI Brasilia has partnered closely with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Child Rescue Coalition to combat child exploitation through the use of Child Protection Software (CPS). Between fiscal years 2016 and 2019, HSI Brasilia provided eleven technical training exercises on the use of the CPS to law enforcement agencies in Brazil and other nations across Latin America, leading to multiple investigations into child exploitation offenses in their respective countries.

Officials say, the efforts of HSI, CPS, and both domestic and international law enforcement has generated a significant increase in the number of child exploitation investigations and arrests conducted throughout the region. Since 2017, OPC has resulted in a total of approximately 781 arrests, 1,383 executed search warrants, and dozens of minor victims rescued.

The HSI International Operations Division is the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative presence overseas. Division personnel serve as liaisons to governments and law enforcement agencies across the globe and work side-by-side with foreign law enforcement on HSI investigations. HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; TTY for hearing impaired: (802) 872-6196. This hotline is staffed around-the-clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may also be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or https://report.cybertip.org/.

Coast Guard, authorities stop drug smuggling operation near Panama

The Coast Guard stopped a drug smuggling operation, April 13, in international waters northeast of Panama.

Miami (FL): A Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, forward deployed with the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba (WMEC-907), spotted a suspect fishing vessel with five people aboard. The cutter Escanaba crew sent a small boat crew to the scene.

The cutter Escanaba small boat crew recovered 40 bales of cocaine, and a nearby Panamanian law enforcement boat crew recovered 43 bales, taking a total approximately $60 million wholesale that would have otherwise funded transnational criminal organizations. The 40 bales recovered by the Escanaba crew were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Raymond Evans (WPC-1110) crew.

“During this uncertain time, our U.S. military forces continue to aggressively interdict narcotics being smuggled in our hemisphere,” said Vice Adm. Scott Buschman, Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander. “Like the crew of the Escanaba, we will continue to protect our nation’s maritime borders, ensure our security and carry out all Coast Guard’s missions.”

On April 1, U.S. Southern Command began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere to disrupt the flow of drugs in support of Presidential National Security Objectives. The interdictions, including the actual boardings, are led and conducted by the members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Israeli Prime Minister charged with fraud, corruption, and treason

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand trial on corruption charges. The Israeli Justice Ministry said that Netanyahu is accused of fraud, corruption, and treason. Earlier, Netanyahu has repeatedly denied all accusations against him, claiming a “witch hunt.” He also ruled out resigning if charges were brought against him.

One case concerns the suspicion that Netanyahu when he was a communications Minister, granted company Bezeq legal benefits. In response, the media owned by the concern had to cover Netanyahu’s activities positively.

Also, it is alleged that Netanyahu and his family between 2007 and 2016 accepted gifts from two businessmen, including jewelry, totaling one million shekels (about 230,000 euros). According to police, these were illegal donations by American producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

Netanyahu also reportedly made efforts to have an important Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, positively write about him, in response to which he was allegedly willing to weaken the influence of another newspaper.

According to Israeli expert Yuval Shani of the Israel Institute of democracy (IDI), Netanyahu now has 30 days to apply for parliamentary immunity from prosecution. The IDI argues that under the law after the charges Netanyahu is not obliged to resign. If the politician is found guilty of bribery, he faces up to ten years in prison. If convicted on charges of fraud and treason, the maximum sentence will be three years in prison.

In the recent elections in Israel, which took place on September 17, Benny Gantz’s bloc, having received 33 of the 120 seats, became the strongest parliamentary force. Netanyahu’s Likud came in second with 32 seats. However, none of the parties and their allies have the 61-seat majority needed to form a government.

Protestors have been occupying a campus of the Polytechnic University

It has been announced that police have been trying to break through a security cordon around the central university and firing teargas at anyone trying to interfere.

Protestors have been occupying a campus of the Polytechnic University since last week. And that is not by far the most prolonged confrontation between protestors and police over the past five years of strikes in Hong Kong.

Hundreds of people are trapped inside and cannot get out of the building. Police managed to get in but faced protestors’ attacks with the petrol bombs and arrows shot at police.

When some of the protestors tried to finally escape the campus, police started to fire teargas and rubber bullets to keep them inside. Later on, several protestors attempted to flee but they were attacked by officers firing more rounds of teargas and deploying water cannons. As a result, several protestors were arrested on Monday.

The horror carried on throughout the whole night – the bridges were set on fire, the roads were blocked, a police officer was shot with an arrow.

The Democratic lawmaker, Hui Chi-Fung, commented on the situation:
“The police might not storm the campus but it seems like they are trying to catch people as they attempt to run. It’s not optimistic now. They might all be arrested on campus. Lawmakers and school management are trying to liaise with the police but failed.”

The president of the university himself managed to leave the campus on condition that protestors would stop their attacks.

About 400 people were kept inside the university campus by the mid-afternoon that day. And when a volunteer in the campus was asked about the future plans of the protestors, she said the following:
“They are 20-year-old kids. They don’t have plans. Everyone is nervous.”

Another volunteer who has also spent about 5 full days in the campus mentioned in one of the interviews:
“Officially, they are saying people have to leave now and even pointing out some ways to let you out. But when people try to leave that way, they contain them. It’s a set-up. They don’t let anyone on the university campus go.”

Even though journalists were not allowed anywhere near the university, it was mentioned that many protestors are exhausted and are in need of food, fresh clothes, and water. But others still want to stay and fight for their truth.

The situation worsened, even more, when the media channels announced that the district council elections will be postponed because of the protests. Meanwhile, that was exactly what those protesters were fighting for this whole time – allow people to express their views and opinions through legislative elections.

Apart from that, Hong Kong’s high court made a decision that the ban of any face masks imposed by the government earlier is unconstitutional. However, there is still an official law stating that wearing any type of facial coverings during public events is punishable and the person will be held in prison for that.

Hong Kong is definitely experiencing the worst times in history ever since a controversial bill about the extradition of suspects to China’s capital has been imposed. Thus, protestors now want this bill to be withdrawn and stop the expansion of Beijing’s control over Hong Kong.

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