Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have rescued 44 children and arrested 245 suspected pedophiles over the course five weeks. ICE agents are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying further suspects by publishing their photos and information online.
Seventy-nine other victims of child sexual abuse have also been identified, 24 who are thought to be adults by now.
ICE agents report that of the 245 arrested, at least two of the alleged pedophiles were from California. Bradley Vaine of Fresno was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a developmentally disabled seven-year-old girl. Samuel Gueydan of Clovis was arrested for allegedly possessing over 7,000 videos and 1.2 million images of child pornography, as reported by ABC News.
The investigation, “Operation Sunflower,” was named in commemoration of a previous case involving a child who was rescued in an operation of a much smaller scale.
US agents working together with Dutch investigators became aware of a little girl who they felt was in imminent danger of sexual abuse. The child was discovered through internet postings, and it was suspected that she was being victimized by a relative. Though the child’s whereabouts were unknown, the two agencies worked together to analyze the evidence.
When an image of the child in a moving car surfaced, investigators spotted a unique road sign in the background. Road signs with a sunflower emblem are unique to Kansas and gave the agents a vital clue. After scouring the highways for days, agents were eventually able to locate the child and rescue her from suffering any further abuse.
Operation Sunflower, with the rescue of 44 children, has been a great success, but agents are not finished. Several suspects, who they have been unable to identify, are still actively being sought.
In a video that appears to be around 11 years old, an unknown male and female are seen abusing a young girl. Agents say that the female suspect was between the ages of 35 and 45 when the video was made. She is said to have had two tattoos, a butterfly on her right hip and a cat on her right shoulder. Evidence suggests that the video was made in the Los Angeles area.
ABC News reports two other unknown suspects being sought by ICE:
“An unidentified white male with gray and white hair, a full beard and wearing wire-framed eyeglasses, who was sexually abusing a toddler in Internet images.”
“A second suspect out of Portland, Ore., is a white male with a tattoo on his right tricep who was allegedly sexually abusing a young male child.”
ICE has created a webpage featuring more detailed information and pictures of the unknown suspects.