- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

Federal agents have arrested 56 child predators and criminal alien sex offenders in raids in New York and New Jersey as part of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Operation Predator.

ICE boss Michael J. Garcia said more than 200 agents from the bureau’s field offices in New York City and Newark, N.J., working with ICE’s Office of Detention and Removal and the U.S. Federal Protective Service, began sweeps early yesterday.

All of those arrested, Mr. Garcia said, were foreign nationals who have been convicted of sex crimes in the United States, but have evaded law enforcement efforts to remove them from the country.

“Never have so many child predators been taken off America’s streets in such a short period of time. The success of Operation Predator demonstrates ICE’s commitment to protect our communities and to work with state and local partners in an unprecedented fashion,” he said.

Mr. Garcia said those arrested included an Ecuadorean living in New Jersey who sexually assaulted a 2-year-old child, a Salvadoran living in New York who sexually abused a 6-year-old boy, a citizen of Trinidad living in New York who raped his 7-year-old niece, and a Salvadoran living in New Jersey who sexually assaulted his 10-year-old daughter over a two-year period.

The arrests were part of an ongoing, international ICE initiative designed to protect children from pedophiles, Internet predators, human traffickers, international sex tourists and other predatory criminals. Targets of Operation Predator include U.S. citizens suspected of child sex crimes, as well as noncitizen sex offenders whose crimes make them subject to removal from this country.

Mr. Garcia said that since Operation Predator was launched in July, ICE has arrested 1,300 child predators and sex offenders nationwide. Coordinated nationally and internationally by ICE headquarters, he said, the operation brings together the full spectrum of the agency’s cyber, intelligence, investigative, and detention and removal capabilities in a coordinated campaign against domestic and international child predators.

Those arrested have prior criminal convictions for a variety of sex crimes, including rape, sodomy, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, aggravated sexual assault, sexual abuse, distribution of child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child.

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