The feds arrested more than 2,300 online sex offender suspects in a massive, nationwide effort — and a U.S. Secret Service employee was among those caught, officials say.
The operation, named "Broken Heart," was led by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces and pooled the resources of 61 ICAC task forces located in all 50 states.
Over the course of the three month investigation, the United States Justice Department reported that they were able to identify 195 offenders who either produced child pornography or committed child sexual abuse as part of the arrests.
The operation also helped identify 383 children who suffered "recent, ongoing, or historical sexual abuse or production of child pornography," according to the justice department.
"No child should ever have to endure sexual abuse," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. "And yet, in recent years, certain forms of modern technology have facilitated that spread of child pornography and created greater incentives for its production."
The operation — which took place during March, April and May of this year — included the investigation of more than 25,200 complaints of technology assisted crimes against children.
"One of the critical factors that enables these task forces’ success is the collaboration between state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies within each task force, as well as across the task forces when cases and/or leads cross state lines," James Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Office of Justice Programs, told Oxygen.com.
In Washington, 47 suspects were arrested including nine federal cases, The Seattle Times reported. Four of the cases involved peer-to-peer file sharing of images depicting child sexual abuse.
In Maryland, there were 56 arrests, including the arrest of a U.S. Secret Service employee, according to 47 ABC, a Maryland news channel.
The employee, identified as Jeffrey Litteral (pictured above), was charged with possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, possession of obscene material and distribution of obscene material.
Mississippi Attorney General Jeff Hood announced that 32 arrests were made in his state.
“The best thing about this operation is that 383 children were identified who had become a victim of these sick individuals. Mississippi is a safer place for our children thanks to the hard work of those who serve on our ICAC task force,” Hood said in a statement on his website.
[Photo: Maryland State Police]