handcuffsSo this is terrifying: Over 200 people have been arrested in a child exploitation ring that included 123 child victims. The arrests were part of a five-week international child pornography investigation; 110 of the victims were found and rescued in the U.S. The other victims were found in six other countries.

As awful as it is to know that this operation was so large and widespread -- it's such a relief to know they've all been caught! And thank goodness those children have been rescued. Child pornography is one the most difficult crimes for law enforcement to grapple with. This is a major breakthrough in the battle against child exploitation.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, the agency's role in the sting operation was to find and rescue victims, and to arrest people involved in abuse and transmitting child pornography. The arrests included two adults in Los Angeles for molesting a girl (who had appeared in online photos) when she was 13 years old.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of this problem, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says through September 2011, it has collected information on more than 3,800 child victims of online sexual exploitation through its Child Victim Identification Program (CVIP). And it has seized pornography collections from more than 29,000 investigations around the country through the Child Recognition and Identification System (CRIS).

So these arrests definitely make a dent in this sick realm of criminal behavior. But it looks like there's still much more work to be done. And, of course, we can help. If you see something suspicious or have information, contact CVIP's cyber tipline.

Do you think we'll ever be able to significantly curtail child pornography and exploitation?

 

Image via banspy/Flickr