Operation Sunflower: Major ICE sting nets 245 child-sex suspects

Orlando suspects among 245 arrested in major child-sex investigation

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More than 240 adults have been arrested in a five-week, international investigation of child pornography that included suspects from Orlando and Cocoa Beach, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say.

ICE Director John Morton said 123 child victims were identified in the investigation, which ended in early December. It found 110 victims in 19 U.S. states. The others were living in six countries.

Homeland Security Investigations Tampa, which oversees offices from Naples to the Panhandle, made 11 criminal arrests in Florida as part of Operation Sunflower, named to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the rescue of an 11-year-old girl in Kansas. Ten of those were made in the Orlando/Cocoa Beach area.

Members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Task Force assisted with some of the arrests.

Morton says the investigation is part of the agency's effort to find and rescue victims, and arrest abusers and people who make or transmit child pornography.

Of the 123 victims, five were younger than 3, nine were ages 4-6, 21 were ages 7-9 and 11 were ages 10-12.

Two unidentified adults also were charged in Los Angeles with molesting a girl who appeared in widely-distributed online photos to be about 13 when she was abused. The man and woman are charged as "Jane Doe" and "John Doe," and authorities think the pictures were taken about 11 years ago. Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call ICE at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or go to www.ICE.gov/tips.

This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.

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