A five-week sting operation called “iGuardian” has been carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, resulting in the arrests of 255 suspected child predators.
The operation targeted people believed to own, trade or produce child pornography.
Among those arrested include a middle school teacher in California, a cheerleading coach in Puerto Rico, and a Mexican national who preyed on both girls and boys.
The sting spanned across nine different countries, but 244 of those arrested were inside the U.S. The remaining 11 were located overseas.
More than 1/3 of the victims were younger than 10 years old.
ICE agents say many online predators engage in a tactic they refer to as “sextortion,” where deceit, impersonation and blackmail are used in demanding sexual favors. Offenders will often use issues of self-esteem or problems within the home or school to their advantage.
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children urges parents to pry into the online lives of their sons and daughters.