2 Phoenix residents arrested in international child exploitation probePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Three people in Arizona were among more than 200 adults arrested during a five-week international investigation of child pornography.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and partner law enforcement agencies arrested 245 people during Operation Sunflower, which took place Nov. 1 to Dec. 7.
Two people were arrested in Phoenix and one in Tucson.
One suspect has been identified as Tony Michael Rockford, 21. According to the Phoenix Police Department, Rockford hacked into teen girls' Facebook accounts then blackmailed them into sending sexually explicit pictures to him. He also allegedly lured one of the teens into having sex with him.
Rockford was indicted on 15 counts, including sexual conduct with a minor, luring a minor for sexual exploitation, child prostitution and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Christopher Dale Fadley, 42, was taken into custody at his Phoenix home on Nov. 30. He was charged with one count of aggravated luring of a minor.
ICE Director John Morton said the investigation is part of the agency's effort to find and rescue victims, and arrest abusers and people who make or transmit child pornography.
Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states. Five of the victims were under the age of 3; nine were ages 4 to 6; 21 were ages 7 to 9; 11 were ages 10 to 12; 38 were ages 13 to 15; and 15 were ages 16 to 17. Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children. Seventy were female and 53 were male.
Forty-four children were directly rescued from their abusers and 79 were identified as either being exploited by others outside of their home or are now adults who were victimized as children, according to HSI officials.
"The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong," Morton said. "Whenever our investigations reveal the production and distribution of new child pornography online, we will do everything we can to rescue the victim and prosecute the abuser even if takes us years or around the world to do it. A relentless fight against child exploitation is the only answer."
Victim identification and rescue efforts continue.
Operation Sunflower was conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.