Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Good morning, the Department of Justice is pleased to once again host the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation.
Child exploitation is one of the most horrendous crimes affecting the most vulnerable members of society. As law enforcement officials, we have a duty to protect our children from these abuses, both in the physical and online worlds. Ongoing training on the newest forms of child exploitation is an important part of that duty. I thank all of you for your commitment and your contribution to this important effort.
This year’s training includes nearly 100 virtual workshops discussing the latest topics, tools, and technology for investigating and prosecuting online and related crimes against children. The training is part of the broader effort of our Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, which have had great success since their creation in 1998.
To date, task forces have reviewed more than 1 million complaints of child exploitation, which have resulted in the arrest of more than 100,000 individuals. In addition, since the program’s inception, more than 762,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute internet crimes against children.
The task force program is complemented by DOJ’s Project Safe Childhood. PSC is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC coordinates federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet. PSC also works to identify and rescue victims. Under PSC, federal prosecutions have increased annually for 11 straight years. Overall, the number of federal production cases have almost tripled, from 218 cases initiated against 239 defendants in FY 2008, to 635 cases initiated against 674 defendants in FY 2019.
This work is more important now than ever. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closings, children are spending more time online. The advancement of technology has provided us many ways to stay connected and learn remotely. Unfortunately, the same technology also provides predators with pathways back into our homes and can be used by strangers to target our children for sexual exploitation. In addition, because of the spread of warrant-proof encryption and anonymizing technology, it is harder to detect and investigate these crimes.
Our determined work has yielded important successes. For example, last year the Department announced the takedown of the largest Dark Web commercial website dedicated to child sexual abuse material. The site administrator, along with 337 other persons across the United States and on five continents, were arrested as a result of this investigation. Most importantly, at least 23 minor victims who were being actively abused by the users of the site were rescued. The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, which is one of the largest seizures of its kind. Forty-five percent of the videos currently analyzed contain new images that have never been seen before. This Dark Web site, which boasted over one million downloads of child exploitation videos by users, was also among the first of its kind to monetize child exploitation videos through the use of cryptocurrency.
I know this work is not easy, especially when resources are diverted to other law-enforcement needs. But your work is essential. Whether you are a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, forensic analyst, or victim support personnel, you are helping to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Thank you for your commitment and contribution to this worthy mission on behalf of the American people.