FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2016 file photo, children are silhouetted against the setting sun as they run on the sand at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Homeland Security investigators who uncover child exploitation initiated more than 4,000 cases around the world in 2019. Data obtained by The Associated Press shows the investigations resulted in thousands of arrests and the identification of more than 1,000 victims. On Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, officials plan to unveil a new center based at Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s headquarters in Washington tasked with alerting other countries when U.S. sex offenders are traveling there. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

AP Exclusive: Data shows upswing in child exploitation cases

November 14, 2019 - 6:47 am

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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