Feds launch smartphone app aimed at capturing child predators

Posted Sept. 12, 2013, at 3 p.m.
A screen shot of child predators wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A screen shot of child predators wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Directorate has created a smartphone app to help capture child predators, the federal law enforcement agency announced Thursday.

The app, which can currently be downloaded by Apple iPhone users, allows the public to submit anonymous tips, see pictures and descriptions of those ICE is attempting to track down and read news about the capture and prosecution of child exploitation suspects. The app will be available to other phone users in the near future.

“When children are being sexually abused and exploited, it’s a race against the clock to rescue the child and bring the predator to justice,” said acting ICE Director John Sandweg in a prepared statement. “These investigations are one of our highest priorities, and in today’s world, we need to be technologically savvy and innovative in our approach.”

The Homeland Security Investigations Directorate of ICE is responsible for investigating a wide range of domestic and international activities arising from the illegal movement of people and goods into, within and out of the United States, according to its website.

Currently, none of the predators being sought by ICE have connections to Maine. However, the agency’s most urgent case involves a man who could be anywhere in the country or Canada.

“John Doe” is an unidentified man wanted for producing child pornography involving the sexual abuse of a 10- to 12-year-old girl. The first video was discovered by Interpol and submitted to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2006.

“The creation and launch of this application provides ICE another useful tool to reach the public,” said Brian Hale, ICE director of public affairs. “We recognize that people receive a great deal of information on their mobile devices and we are hopeful that this app will encourage them to submit tips about suspects and to learn more about our work investigating child exploitation crimes.”

Maine has had several child pornography and child exploitation cases in recent months.

A Norridgewock man and a Winslow man were charged with several felonies late last month related to child pornography.

Former mental health worker Wade Robert Hoover was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison in July for producing and downloading child pornography. He still faces multiple state charges in Somerset and Kennebec counties for gross sexual assault against two children.

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