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U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE ANNOUNCES SAFETY INITIATIVE AT LOCAL SCHOOLS TO HELP COMBAT CHILD EXPLOITATION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2010

Miami-Dade and Broward School Districts Agree to Participate

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and members the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (SFL-ICAC), today announce, a local initiative to conduct internet safety training at Miami-Dade and Broward Schools. The training will begin this fall. Today’s announcement is part of the Department of Justice’s Strategy to Combat Child Exploitation, the details of which were announced earlier today by Attorney General Eric Holder.

At a noon press conference in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Department of Justice’s first National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction. The strategy also provides the first ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation, and sexual exploitation in Indian Country, and outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against these crimes. The strategy builds upon the department’s accomplishments in combating child exploitation by establishing specific, aggressive goals and priorities and increasing cooperation and collaboration at all levels of government and the private sector.

As part of the overall strategy, the U.S. Marshals Service is launching a nationwide operation targeting the top 500 most dangerous, non-compliant sex offenders in the nation. Additionally, the department will create a national database to allow federal, state, tribal, local and international law enforcement partners to deconflict their cases with each other, engage in undercover operations from a portal facilitated or hosted by the database, share information and intelligence and conduct analysis on dangerous offenders and future threats and trends.

“Although we’ve made meaningful progress in protecting children across the country, and although we’ve brought a record number of offenders to justice in recent years, it is time to renew our commitment to this work. It is time to intensify our efforts,” said Attorney General Holder. “This new Strategy provides the roadmap necessary to do just that – to streamline our education, prevention and prosecution activities; to improve information sharing and collaboration; and to make the most effective use of limited resources. Together, we are sending an important message – that the U.S. government, and our nation’s Department of Justice, has never been more committed to protecting our children and to bringing offenders to justice.”

Since FY 2006, the Department of Justice has filed 8,464 Project Safe Childhood (PSC) cases against 8,637 defendants. These cases include prosecutions of online enticement of children to engage in sexual activity, interstate transportation of children to engage in sexual activity, production, distribution and possession of child pornography, and other offenses. In the Southern District of Florida, the number of defendants charged in PSC cases increased significantly from 44 defendants in FY 2006 to 82 defendants in FY 2009.

The South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works to combat child exploitation and is comprised of 64 federal, state, and local law enforcement affiliates throughout the district. These law enforcement agencies work closely with federal and state prosecutors to investigate and prosecute these cases aggressively. Each year, the Department of Justice recognizes the extraordinary efforts of the 59 nationwide ICAC task forces. In the past two years, the Southern District of Florida’s ICAC Task Force has earned four awards for their outstanding work in PSC-related cases. A listing of all SFL-ICAC members is attached to this press release.

Part of the national strategy announced today includes a renewed commitment to public awareness and community outreach. To this end, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with its SFL-ICAC partners, will be implementing a local internet safety training program to be presented throughout Miami-Dade and Broward public schools. This hands-on innovative program will be delivered through training sessions in school computer labs in both school district. The goal of this program is to teach students to recognize and respond to deceptive or dangerous behavior occurring over the internet. The training will be led by the Law Enforcement/Community Coordinator and Community Resource Specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with ICAC support.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “The internet is a powerful tool that unites and educates all of us, but – in the wrong hands – can be used as the weapon of choice for child pornographers and sexual predators. I commend the Miami-Dade and Broward School Districts for joining the Department of Justice in this crucial program to help educate our children about the dangers that lurk behind a computer screen. If even one child’s life is saved, this internet safety training program will be a success.”

Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the SFL-ICAC Task Force, will host a Federal Crimes Against Children Symposium. The two-day Symposium, scheduled for September 2010, will provide training to approximately 175 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers on internet child pornography, child abductions, the Sex Offender Registration Act, child prostitution, the international human trafficking of minors, and sex tourism.

As part of its public outreach efforts, the department today re-launched www.ProjectSafeChildhood.gov, the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) public website. PSC is a department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information regarding the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, please visit: www.projectsafechildhood.gov/docs/natstrategyreport.pdf.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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