D.C.

ICE agents make 245 arrests worldwide in child porn sting

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ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) rescued 123 children, including individuals as young as 2-years-old, during a wide-reaching child pornography probe that spanned six countries.

Out of the 245 criminal arrests made worldwide, eight occurred in Virginia and one in Maryland.

According to a federal indictment, 30-year-old Robert Marzola of Essex,Md. allegedly produced pornographic images involving a young boy. 

Authorities say many of the accused child predators are well-known to their victims.

"Either a parent, boyfriend, relative or a friend...," said ICE HSI Director John Morton.

The sting, dubbed "Operation Sunflower", was named after a case in Kansas when officials at HSI's Child Exploitation Center in Fairfax used the image of a highway sign from a pornographic video to find the victim.

Morton explained, "We identify a sign unique to the state of Kansas...we were able to find not only the right highway, but the stretch of highway where that sign was."

It's just one of the thousands of examples in which authorities use sophisticated forensic analysis technology to identify victims.

"We scour these images looking for clues and tidbits...clues [that] will help us identify the victim," Special Agent Brian Korzak added.

But sometimes the images offer few clues, and that's why official are turning to the public for help identifying these alleged child pornographers

Officials point to an ABC7's story from March that led to the arrest of an accused pedophile in California as an example of how important the public's help can be.

Korzak explained, "...within 48 hours, he was in custody. Your report airs in Washington, D.C., arrested in California. Perfect examples."

Since that March report, ICE officials have made three additional arrests based solely on tips from the public. If you have any information you can provide to help solve any of these unsolved cases, you're asked to call ICE's tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

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