Trinity Mount Ministries

Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arizona. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

HSI partners with local law enforcement in child exploitation takedown


Operation Broken Hearts – Child Sex Crimes Arrests, Phoenix Police Department

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) collaborated with the Phoenix Police Department, Mesa Police Department, Tempe Police Department, Chandler Police Department, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for Operation Broken Hearts. The week long sting operation began in early February resulted in nearly 40 arrests of suspected child predators.

“This multiagency operation is just one of many examples that underscores the importance of working together with our local and state law enforcement partners to take these alleged predators off the streets,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. “The relentless work by all resulted in an impressive number of arrests. We will continue our unwavering commitment to serve and protect our community against anyone seeking to sexually exploit our most vulnerable population.”

Operation Broken Hearts was an undercover operation targeting sexual predators engaged in child sex crimes and human trafficking. Throughout the operational period, officers and undercover detectives placed ads on websites and apps which are commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts with children. These 37 suspects solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested.

Each year, these agencies come together to conduct operations of this type in a continuous effort to reduce the demand that fuels child and human sex trafficking from our communities. The suspects in the latest operation ranged in age from 21 to 66-years-old.

Like all defendants, those accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.



Saturday, August 8, 2020

Trinity Mount Ministries - How the FBI tracks down child pornography predators







Millions of images of sexually abused children are traded with like-minded predators all over the U.S. and beyond. Special correspondent John Ferrugia of Rocky Mountain PBS tells the story of one family who was victimized, and one FBI team that tracks down abusers.

Read the Full Transcript

Judy Woodruff:

It is a disturbing issue, but one that is growing, the production of millions of pornographic images of children being sexually abused.

They are uploaded from cell phones, Webcams, and computers.

John Ferrugia of Rocky Mountain PBS has the story of one family who was a victim and explores what you can do to protect your children.

Beth:

There was a card on our front door from the FBI, and, immediately, our hearts sank. We thought, why is the FBI contacting us?

John Ferrugia:

Seven years ago, Beth and her husband couldn't imagine what the FBI wanted, but they agreed to meet.

Beth:

They said, we believe your son has been a victim of a crime. And I said. Impossible. My son is at home. And he showed me the photos, and immediately I just broke down. My husband broke down crying.

John Ferrugia:

What she saw was her then 4-year-old son being sexually abused, the acts documented in still images and video, and uploaded to the Internet. It had been going on for two years.

Beth:

And they asked us if we knew who the person was and where he could be located, and…

John Ferrugia:

And did you?

Beth:

I did. He actually was a family friend that we had known for a long time, almost my whole life.

Tina Fourkas:

It's your neighbor, it's your pastor, it's your teacher, it's your soccer coach. We have had all of those types of people, people with kids, people without kids.

John Ferrugia:

FBI Special Agent Tina Fourkas has been investigating Internet child pornography in the Denver field office for more than seven years.

Tina Fourkas:

I wish there was some magic profile where we could identify these people, but there's not.

John Ferrugia:

It was Fourkas, along with agents in Illinois, Missouri, Arizona, and Colorado, who were able to identify son. Through their investigation, they discovered he had been a victim in a multistate child porn ring, and the agents tracked down those who had sexually abused him for years.

Beth:

My son was going to my dad's house. My dad also had some people that were helping him out and providing care and resources at his House.

John Ferrugia:

So he had no idea?

Beth:

He had absolutely no idea.

John Ferrugia:

The men, one married with two children and the other single, who had access to Beth's son, were arrested and convicted.

The break in the case came with the arrest of this man, Richard Franklin. He is a 50-year-old military veteran who lived in this quiet Denver neighborhood with his parents, who knew nothing about their son's criminal obsession.

Tina Fourkas:

You take a quick walk around the house, and you immediately know usually who your subject is, because it's the bedroom with all the computers and all the keyboards.

John Ferrugia:

FBI photos from their search of the house show how Franklin closeted himself with his computers, where he could view images he collected of children being sexually abused.

Tina Fourkas:

He had hundreds of thousands of images and videos of child pornography.

John Ferrugia:

Hundreds of thousands?

Tina Fourkas:

Yes, hundreds of thousands.

John Ferrugia:

Franklin's images of sexually abused children, stored on hard drives, were being traded with like-minded predators all over the U.S. and beyond. Franklin was advertising for child porn, receiving images, including those of Beth's son, and trading images from his collection.

Franklin was convicted and sentenced to 100 years in federal prison. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, known as NCMEC, works with federal, state, and local law enforcement to identify children in photos who are being sexually abused.

Here is how it works: Internet service providers like Google, Yahoo, and others monitor the billions of uploads and downloads of material with algorithms that search for possible child pornography. When it is detected, the providers review them and contact NCMEC, sending a sample image, as well as information about the Web server and address. It is then passed along to the FBI for possible investigation.

Calvin Shivers:

We're able to run those images against known images that NCMEC has, and that may play a part in victim identification.

John Ferrugia:

Calvin Shivers is the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Denver. He previously headed the Violent Crimes Against Children section at FBI headquarters.

He says, in Colorado, about 50 percent of child porn cases investigated are derived from tips from Internet providers through the nonprofit.

Calvin Shivers:

A lot of times, when you just get a general tip, there may not be enough information. But NCMEC, because of the experience staff, they're able to in some instances call additional information that may help the investigation.

John Ferrugia:

The number of tips compiled by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has exploded in recent years. In 2010, there were more than 213,000 tips involving child pornography. In 2017, the number of tips was more than 10 million.

Judy Smith:

The number of cases that are happening, it's an avalanche. I mean, we just feel like we're dishing the ocean out with a spoon.

John Ferrugia:

Judy Smith is chief of the cyber-crime and national security section of the U.S. attorney's office in Denver.

Judy Smith:

Nobody wants to know that this dark side of humanity exists, and not just exists, but the scope of it.

John Ferrugia:

Judy Smith says another growing concern involves increasingly younger kids carrying smartphones.

Judy Smith:

They can take pictures of themselves, and they can send those to their friends or somebody who they think are friends. There's online predators out there who pose as young boys or girls, who then entice or ask kids to self-produce child pornography.

John Ferrugia:

And FBI Special Agent Tina Fourkas says, once just one photo is sent by an unsuspecting child or teen to a predator posing online as another kid, as illustrated in this NCMEC training video.

Tina Fourkas:

They can be blackmailed, or they're too embarrassed to say anything, so they continue to send pictures.

John Ferrugia:

To emphasize the point, Fourkas noted that while we were conversing on an upper floor of the FBI building in Denver-

Tina Fourkas:

People are actively posting child pornography on one of my undercover computers downstairs. There's a little girl on that site, you can tell she's self-producing. I mean, she's holding the cell phone out. She's nude. She's maybe 10, 11 years old.

John Ferrugia:

You're seeing this?

Tina Fourkas:

And we're seeing this live on this site. Why is she taking pictures of herself? Where are her parents?

Calvin Shivers:

You know, parents should be cognizant of what their children are doing on the Internet and on their smartphones just across the board.

John Ferrugia:

And FBI Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers says it goes beyond monitoring.

Calvin Shivers:

Parents should also make sure that there's a good avenue for their children to communicate and, if they had that conversation, that the children know that they can come to them.

To your point, a lot of the victims don't feel that they can talk to their parents. And that causes them to be revictimized over and over again.

John Ferrugia:

For Beth's son and for her family, ongoing therapy has brought them beyond trauma to hope.

How does how does your son see his future?

Beth:

Oh, just very positive. He's also going to have this story to go with it, that, you know, I dealt with this as a child, and, look, here I am, and you can get through it too.

John Ferrugia:

Beth and her family say they hope public discussion of this horrific crime will bring public awareness and reduce the stigma for victims whose childhood photos often remain accessible on the Web, and that it will help victims and their families heal.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Ferrugia in Denver.





Tuesday, July 28, 2020

More time at home for kids heightens concern for water safety

BY 


(Pixabay Photo)
PHOENIX – Like most summer programs and activities for kids throughout Arizona, a camp that offers free swim lessons and water safety education in Phoenix had to be canceled this year.

And that’s a big concern for Karen Cohn.
She and her husband lost their son Zachary Archer Cohn in a pool drain entrapment in their backyard swimming pool in 2007. A year later, they founded the ZAC Foundation in his honor.

The Connecticut-based nonprofit educates kids and their families about the importance of water safety.

But this will be the first time in a decade that the group will not be able to hold its four-day ZAC Camp nationwide, including Phoenix, where about 100 kids ages 5-9 participate every summer.

Cohn said water safety is even more urgent now with the coronavirus pandemic.
She said not only are water safety summer camps and programs like the ZAC camps canceled, parents are more distracted as they try to juggle working from home and trying to supervise their kids.

One way she said parents are trying to keep their kids entertained is by “running out and buying kiddie pools and inflatable pools without being aware of the danger that they could pose to young children.”
Drowning is a leading cause of death for young children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A young child can drown in less than 2 inches of water,” Cohn said.
“So even if you have a bucket that has water left in it, young children can fall in and not be able to get themselves back up right.”
The latest data from Children’s Safety Zone shows 10 children under 5 have drowned in Maricopa and Pinal counties so far this year.

Cohn said now more than ever she feels it’s urgent to educate parents about water safety, starting with never leaving a child alone anywhere near water, even if a lifeguard is present.

She also recommends adding layers of protection to keep kids from reaching above-ground pools. That includes ensuring that pools are fenced and have self-latching gates or alarms.
For smaller and inflatable pools, Cohn recommends emptying the water and turning them upside down when they’re not being used.
“It’s really important to also not leave toys in these pools, because children are attracted to those toys,” she said.
She also warned parents about flotation devices, like inflatable floaties and tubes. She said they can give children a false sense of security that they can swim.
“Talk to them about that,” she said. “Also give them the opportunity to get in the water without these flotation devices, so they can understand what it feels like when they’re in the water and they can’t swim.”
And be aware of pool drains. She said if a drain is not working properly, everyone in the pool should get out immediately.
“No one should be swimming in it until it’s repaired,” she said. “Not only can children become entrapped, adults can as well. It’s hundreds of pounds of pressure that can only be released when the pool pumps are shut down.”
More water safety tips can be found on the ZAC Foundation’s website.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Which States Have the Most Missing Persons?



Over 600,000 people go missing each year:

 BY 

According to NamUS, over 600,000 people go missing each year in the United States, ranging from young children to older individuals.
Famous missing person cases such as the Elizabeth Smart or Jayme Closs disappearances are well-known missing persons cases, but countless other cases never make it to the spotlight.
National Missing Persons Day—February 3—gives the nation an opportunity to focus more on finding those missing persons, and some states are even expanding those efforts. Arizona holds a Missing in Arizona Day each year where forensic experts and law enforcement take information, notes, and records about missing individuals in hopes of finding some of those people.
Below, we explore which states have the most missing persons to help keep you informed about this epidemic.
Missing Persons per capita map

Methodology

The team at VivintSource.com gathered data from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System to see which states have the most and least amounts of missing persons per capita. State populations reported came from the 2017 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

Data Highlights

missing person is defined as “anyone whose whereabouts is unknown whatever the circumstances of disappearance.” They can be considered a lost person, someone who has voluntarily gone missing, or someone who is missing against their will. In our research, we uncovered some compelling data about missing persons:
  • Of the 15,207 people currently missing in the US, approximately 60% are male and 40% are female.
  • The average age of people when they go missing is around 34.
  • As of January 2019, there are 106 children currently missing who were younger than a year old when they went missing.
  • Alaska has the most missing persons per capita, with 41.8 people missing per 100,000 population. Massachusetts has the least missing persons per capita, with 1.8 people missing per 100,000 population.
  • However, California has the most missing persons in total, with 2,133 people missing. Rhode Island has the least, with 20 people missing.
  • The cities with the most missing people total include Los Angeles (189), Phoenix (170), Houston (165), San Francisco (163), and Detroit (150).
  • There are 12,459 unidentified persons as of January 2019.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Lawsuit: Mormon Church failed to keep child safe from abuse




Of the five temples in Arizona, with one more coming in Tucson, all but one have on top a golden figure pointed east. Hannah Gaber/azcentral.com
Another member of the Navajo Nation is suing the Mormon church, saying he was abused in a now-defunct program that sent children into foster care for the school year. 
Unlike similar lawsuits, the complaint filed Tuesday in tribal court doesn't seek changes to the policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It seeks unspecified monetary damages for decades of alleged emotional harm, including attempted suicide.
"This poor guy. He was devastated by what happened, just devastated," said David Jordan, an attorney for the man identified as LB in court documents. "He has not escaped it his entire life."
LB was baptized into the Mormon church before he started the fifth grade in 1984 and placed with a Mormon foster family in Utah. He was one of thousands of Native Americans who participated in the church's Indian Student Placement Program that aimed to give children educational opportunities they didn't have on the reservation.
The voluntary program started in the late 1940s and ended around 2000.
The lawsuit says LB was sexually molested three times in the 1980s by a church bishop who lived across the street from his foster family, twice at the bishop's home and once at a church office. The bishop persuaded LB to return to his home the second time by offering him candy, the lawsuit states.
LB told his foster mother about the abuse, but she accused him of lying. She sent him to bed without dinner and grounded him another time, according to the lawsuit. His foster father spanked him for reporting abuse to a caseworker, the lawsuit states. LB also said he told a teacher.
LB was sent back home to the Navajo Nation after he stole from his foster family, part of his plan to get kicked out of the foster program, the lawsuit states.


The Salt Lake Temple is shown in Salt Lake City. (Photo: Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

The lawsuit says the church failed to keep LB safe and did not have a way to supervise those who participated in the placement program. The church did not report the abuse to law enforcement, the victim's family or the public, the lawsuit states.
"If somebody takes your child and says 'I will keep them safe,' I think the highest duty imposed on that person should be safety and security until they're returned," Jordan said.

The church's media representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. But they previously have said the church works to prevent abuse.


Jordan filed a similar lawsuit in October on behalf of a Navajo woman identified as CB who alleges she was sexually abused in 1976 by her foster brother, who threatened he would do worse things if she told anyone. She was moved to another home after reporting the abuse, the lawsuit filed in tribal court states.
Jordan also is representing a Navajo woman identified as BN whose case was part of a group reportedly settled last year, but she wanted to move forward with the claims she first filed in 2016, he said.
The church has sought to keep tribal courts from hearing the cases, arguing the Navajo Nation doesn't have jurisdiction. But a tribal judge says it does because the program was based on the reservation, even though the children were sent to homes in Utah, Arizona and Idaho.
The church once believed it had a duty to restore the heritage of Native Americans who referred to as Lamanites, or the wicked of two civilizations that emerged when God guided families to the Americas. The church changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon a few years ago to say that Lamanites are among the ancestors of Native Americans.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

24 arrested in East Valley child sex crimes operation


MESA, AZ - A multi-agency operation to crack down on child sex crimes coined "Operation Degrossting," has resulted in the arrest of 24 suspects.

According to the Mesa Police Department, they partnered with the Tempe, Gilbert and Chandler Police Departments as well as the Attorney General’s Office as part of the undercover operation.
Over a recent six-day period, undercover detectives placed ads on websites commonly used by suspects looking to perform illegal sex acts, particularly with children.
Mesa police say all 24 suspects solicited or made deals for various sex acts with the undercover detectives before they were arrested.
Suspects in this case range from the age of 21 to 80 years old. 
"Crimes involving children are of the highest priority and I appreciate our partnership with all the agencies involved in the successful removal of these dangerous child predators from our community," said Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista.
To date, 42 charges have been filed against the 24 suspects. Those charges include luring, child sex crimes, marijuana sale, and resisting arrest among others.
Details on all 24 arrests can be found HERE on the Mesa police crime blog.
The Mesa Police Department is urging anyone who has information about someone being trafficked to contact your local police department or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or humantraffickinghotline.org.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kristi's Kids: Lifesaver - Drowning prevention efforts in the autism community

KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Written By Edgar Ybarra

TUCSON – This “Drowning Impact Awareness Month,” Kristi’s Kids is drawing special attention to children with autism.  Ninety-one percent of all child autism deaths are from drowning and, this summer, at least 18 of those cases have been reported nationwide.  Children with autism have a notorious attraction to any and all bodies of water.

The Autism Society of Southern Arizona and Firefighters vs. Autism want you to sign up for a special alert, in the event that a child with autism goes missing near you. 
The so-called “Puzzle Alert Safety System,” or P.A.S.S., is similar to an Amber Alert.  Parents pre-register their autistic child and send an alert if that child goes missing.  The alert goes to everyone else in the city who’s also registered. 
It’s important to have a high sign-up rate, to better spread the word.
To register for the “Puzzle Alert,” click here.
To learn more about Firefighters vs. Autism, click here.
To learn more about the Autism Society of Southern AZ, click here.
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Department of Child Safety worker finds missing child:



By Whitney Clark.

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- While it's Andrea Hudson's job to help children, when she saw a young boy walking down a busy road alone she sprung into action.

Hudson works as an investigator for the Arizona Department of Child Safety in Tucson.

"The job doesn't stop," Hudson said. "It's not something you put aside or put your blinders on at the end of the night."
     
On June 2nd, Hudson was driving home from work when out of the corner of her eye she saw the boy near I-10 and Colossal Cave Road. Hudson says she approached the boy and at first he was very reluctant to talk. When she told him where she worked, Hudson says the boy made her show him her badge. 

The boy had been missing from his home on Slate Drive for hours. There was a massive search organized by the Pima County Sheriff's Department when Hudson found the boy. After the search detectives started an investigation, and the boy's stepfather is now facing child abuse charges. 

Hudson says her job can be difficult, but she knows that she is helping others.

"I find it more empowering," Hudson said. "To be able to go in there and offer assistance and help these families out in there time of need."

In a press release today, DCS Director Greg McKay released the following statement:

"We cannot thank Ms. Hudson enough for her invaluable effort in helping locate this child," said McKay. "Her quick thinking and vast knowledge and experience in child welfare led to a safe outcome for this child. This is just one small example of all the extraordinary work our employees do in protecting the children of Arizona."

If you suspect someone may be a victim of child abuse, you can call 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 911.



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