Friday, March 04, 2011

Child Exploitation: Statement before Senate on FBI efforts to combat crimes against children

Kevin L. Perkins
  • Assistant Director, Criminal Investigative Division
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Statement Before the Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Washington, D.C.
Good morning, Chairman Klobuchar, ranking member, and distinguished members of the committee. I am pleased to be here with you today to discuss the FBI's efforts to combat crimes against children.

Seventy-nine years ago this month, the FBI and its partners embarked upon an investigation into one of the most notorious crimes of the last century. On the evening of March 1, 1932, the 20-month-old son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was taken from his bedroom in the night. Two months later, the body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was discovered a short distance from his family's home in Hopewell, New Jersey. Our work on that case was the genesis for congressional consideration and ultimate passage of the Federal Kidnapping Act, which made transporting kidnapping victims over state lines a federal offense.

The investigation, conducted in support of the New Jersey State Police, saw the FBI's use of partnerships and other innovative tools of the day to solve that crime. When fingerprint, handwriting analysis, and other investigative tools failed to unveil the suspect, the FBI and its partners at the Treasury Department and the New York Police Department tracked the proceeds of the crime directly to the killer. In September 1934, Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested for the kidnapping and murder. Just four years after little Charles Lindbergh, Jr., was taken from his crib, Hauptmann was executed for his crimes.

In the last seven decades many things have changed. We now live in a world where cell phones and laptops abound. This globalization of our society clearly has its benefits, allowing us to learn, communicate, and conduct business in ways that were unimaginable just 20 years ago. However, an increasingly global world has also provided child predators with ready access to our most innocent citizens.

In that time, much has also changed in the way the FBI conducts its investigations. Ready response teams are stationed across the country and able to quickly respond to abductions. In today's toolkit, investigators will find cutting-edge forensic tools such as DNA, trace evidence, impression evidence, and digital forensics. Through globalization, law enforcement also has the ability to quickly share information with partners the world over and our outreach programs play an integral role in prevention.

The FBI has several programs in place to both educate parents and children about the dangers posed by violent predators and to recover missing and endangered children should they be taken. Through our Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams, Innocence Lost National Initiative, Innocent Images National Initiative, Office of Victim Assistance, and numerous community outreach programs, the FBI and its partners are working to make our global world a safer place for our children.

Let me discuss a few of these programs in my testimony today.

CARD Teams

When every minute counts, the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) program provides a quick and effective response.

Nationally, the FBI's CARD teams are comprised of 60 members; all experienced personnel capable of providing on-the-ground investigative, technical, and resource assistance to the investigating FBI Field division as well as our partners in state and local law enforcement.

Each CARD team consists of Crimes Against Children investigators who work closely with FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit representatives, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime coordinators, and Crimes Against Children coordinators. Relying on their expertise and experience, team members ensure that investigations move quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly.

In addition to their unique expertise, CARD teams are capable of quickly establishing an on-site command post to centralize investigative efforts and operations. Other assets they bring to the table include a new mapping tool to identify and locate registered sex offenders in the area, national and international lead coverage, and the Child Abduction Response Plan to guide investigative efforts. Representatives from the Behavioral Analysis Unit provide on-site interview and media strategies to round out the investigative effort.

Over the past four years, our CARD teams have deployed 65 times. In cases where children remain missing, the CARD team and our Evidence Response Team have provided forensic support for our local law enforcement partners and their prosecutors.

Innocence Lost National Initiative

While it is difficult to imagine, the average age of a child targeted for prostitution in the United States is between 11 and 14 years old. Once in the custody of a pimp, everything the child earns goes to the captor and attempted escapes often result in brutal beatings or even death.

In June 2003, to address the growing problem of commercial sex trafficking of children within the United States, the FBI joined the Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to launch the Innocence Lost National Initiative (ILNI).

Each of ILNI's 41 task forces and working groups throughout the U.S. include federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working in tandem with U.S. Attorney's Offices. Additionally, the program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from all around the country to NCMEC for joint training opportunities

Task force operations usually begin as local actions, targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and Internet websites, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and file federal charges where appropriate.

For its part, the FBI's Crimes Against Children Unit also coordinates a national sting operation to combat domestic sex trafficking of children, entitled Operation Cross Country, multiple times throughout the year. ILNI task forces and working groups in 54 cities have participated in the operation by targeting venues such as the street tracks, truck stops, motels, and casinos where children are typically prostituted. Every case initiated through the ILNI is reviewed for possible federal violations, and where applicable, cases are presented to the United States Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Over 2,100 law enforcement officers have joined together to rescue child victims and apprehend those who victimize them. As a result, 248 child victims have been safely recovered during Operation Cross Country I - V, and 322 pimps engaged in the commercial sexual exploitation of children have been arrested. Operation Cross Country V was held in November 2010, during which 70 children were recovered and 885 arrests were executed, including 99 pimps.

To date, the ILNI has resulted in over 600 federal and state convictions and the location and recovery of over 1300 children. Investigative efforts have increasingly resulted in substantial sentences for those convicted, including three life sentences and numerous others ranging from 25-45 years.

One such example, the Precious Cargo investigation, targeted pimps involved in the sex trafficking of children and adult women to and from the truck stops of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Over 150 victims were identified during the investigation, 45 of whom were identified as having been exploited while underage, the youngest of whom were 12 years old. In December 2005, 18 individuals were indicted for the sex trafficking of children, conspiracy, transportation, and money laundering. In December 2008, Terrance Williams, aka "Sleazy T," was sentenced to 45 years for his role in the enterprise; Eric Hayes, aka "International Ross," to 35 years; and multiple other defendants to sentences exceeding 25 years in length.

Innocent Images National Initiative

The Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI), a component of FBI's cyber crimes program, is a proactive, intelligence-driven, multi-agency investigative operation to combat the proliferation of online child pornography/child sexual exploitation (CP/CSE).

The mission of the IINI is to reduce the vulnerability of children to acts of sexual exploitation and abuse which are facilitated through the use of computers; to identify and rescue child victims; to investigate and prosecute sexual predators who use the Internet and other online services to sexually exploit children for personal or financial gain; and to strengthen the capabilities of federal, state, local, and international law enforcement through training programs and investigative assistance.

Between 1996 and 2009, there was a 2,535 percent increase in child exploitation investigations throughout the FBI. IINI currently has over 6,000 open child pornography cases. During fiscal year (FY) 2009 and FY 2010, we have made more than 2,000 arrests and achieved over 2,500 convictions. In addition and just as important, the FBI has identified 246 new children featured in child pornography in FY 2010.

In 2004, the FBI launched the Innocent Images International Task Force, which brings together law enforcement from around the world to address the global crime problem of online child exploitation. Currently, nearly 100 international officers from 42 countries participate on the task force, which allows for the real-time transfer of information and coordination of cases.
One such investigation, dubbed Operation Achilles, involved our partners in the Queensland Police Department in Australia and authorities in Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Italy, and Britain. The three-year international investigation uncovered suspects who traded more than 400,000 images of children, from infants to adolescents, many depicting acts of violence and torture.

In all, 40 children were rescued, four websites were shut down, and 22 members of the ring were arrested. Fourteen of those were prosecuted using new statutes provided by our Congress. Seven of the 14 prosecuted received life sentences. An additional 100 individuals were ultimately arrested for allegedly buying material depicting sex with children.

Victim Services

In addition to its many investigative efforts, the FBI's Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) ensures that victims of crimes investigated by the FBI receive the services and notification required by federal law and the Attorney General Guidelines on Victim and Witness Assistance. The OVA manages the day-to-day operational aspects of the victim assistance program (VAP) in our 56 FBI field offices across the country, as well as in the FBI's international offices. In addition, OVA is responsible for providing training and information that helps to equip FBI agents and other FBI personnel to work effectively with victims

Among its many programs, OVA coordinates assistance and notification services for child victims of pornography and their guardians as part of the child victim identification program (CVIP).

The OVA forensic child interviewing program ensures that investigative interviews of child victims and witnesses of federal crimes are tailored to the child's stage of development and minimize any additional trauma. FBI child interview specialists directly assist with some interviews and provide detailed training to special agents and other law enforcement personnel on child interviewing.

The OVA also devotes special resources to ensure that child victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect have access to assistance and services. Currently, 43 victim specialists are dedicated to serving victims of crime in Indian country.


It is important to recognize that we are not alone in our efforts to identify victims and bring their abusers to justice. As many of you know, few crimes bring law enforcement together as quickly as an endangered child. Even when the FBI is not the lead investigative agency, we provide significant resources to our federal, state, local, and tribal partners. We stand shoulder to shoulder, working to locate children and build cases against their offenders.

Any success that we have achieved has been through those partnerships and those relationships we continue to develop with our law enforcement partners and one of our greatest allies, NCMEC.

FBI personnel work at NCMEC and have access to the Cyber Tip Line, the "9-1-1 for the Internet." The public and electronic service providers use that line to report Internet child sexual exploitation. In FY 2010, FBI personnel assigned to the center have reviewed more than 75,500 tips—a 100 percent increase from 2009's activity.

At the FBI, we also seek to educate young people through a program we refer to as the Safe Online Surfing Challenge, an interactive online quiz that teaches middle school students about Internet safety. Since 2006, nearly 60,000 students from almost 400 schools in 39 states have participated

Over 1,000 law enforcement officers have been trained through the Protecting Victims of Child Prostitution Course at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which supports the Innocence Lost National Initiative.

In cases where children are taken by non-custodial parents and believed to be located internationally, we work closely with our FBI legal attach├ęs stationed throughout the world and the U.S. Department of State/Office of Children's Issues to pursue all remedies for the safe return of the child.


Just as we worked so hard to solve the Lindbergh case all those years ago, today's FBI remains vigilant in its efforts to remove predators from our communities and to keep our children safe.

Source: FBI