AP Exclusive: Data shows upswing in child exploitation cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Homeland Security investigators who uncover child exploitation initiated more than 4,000 cases around the world in the 2019 budget year.

Data obtained by The Associated Press shows the investigations resulted in thousands of arrests and the identification of more than 1,000 victims. The previous two years saw about 4,000 investigations each but lower arrests and fewer victims identified.

Officials with Homeland Security Investigations say caseloads are growing because of the ease with which offenders can post graphic images of children.

HSI is a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tasked with investigations, not immigration enforcement. Agents work on probes involving money, drug smuggling or child sex trafficking.

On Thursday, officials plan to unveil a new center based at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Washington headquarters tasked with alerting other countries when U.S. sex offenders are traveling there.

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