U.S. Attorney Trent Shores today announced the launch of Operation Clean Sweep aimed at holding accountable child predators throughout the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Operation Clean Sweep concentrates law enforcement efforts on counteracting the spike in internet facilitated child-exploitation crimes. The operation further seeks to identify and rescue any child victims located during the investigation.
“Protecting children from harm remains a top priority for me. To that end, my team will use all available tools to identify and remove child predators from our community. Today I am announcing Operation Clean Sweep, an initiative designed to prioritize helping victims of child sex abuse and holding accountable any adult who possesses, distributes, or manufactures child pornography,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “I have designated Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Nassar and Edward Snow to lead this Operation taking down child predators. I have the utmost confidence that, along with the 11 participating law enforcement agencies, AUSAs Nassar and Snow will make our streets safer for children.”
The operation’s first seven defendants were arrested and charged with distribution and receipt of child pornography and with possession of child pornography. The men made initial appearances in U.S. District Court this week.
Defendants charged as part of the operation this week include:
- James Michael Brown, 63, of Tulsa (charged with possession of child pornography only)
- Michael Lee Figgeroa, 41, of Hominy
- Earl Hardy Morrow, 38, and Kory Morrow, 40, both of Broken Arrow
- Travis Pryce, 50, of Copan
- Aaron James Seney, 32, of Sapulpa
- Jerry Vantine, 74, of Tulsa
The production, consumption and trafficking of child pornography continues to expand at an exponential rate. In 2019, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline received more than 45 million child pornography files in 16.9 million CyberTipline reports.
Those numbers increased significantly when compared to the just over 1.1 million reports made to the CyberTipline in 2014.
Further, NCMEC experienced a 63 per cent increase in CyberTipline reports between January and September 2020 versus the same time period in 2019. Of the tips reported in 2020, there was a 98.6 per cent increase in the number of cases involving adults attempting to engage in a sex act with a child through use of the internet.
NCMEC’s CyberTipline is the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children.
The public and electronic service providers can make reports of suspected online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the internet.
Operation Clean Sweep is led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christpher J. Nassar with support from Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Snow. Law enforcement agencies taking part in the operation are the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Tulsa Police Department, Bristow Police Department, Broken Arrow Police Department, Owasso Police Department, Sand Springs Police Department, Jenks Police Department, Rogers Country Sheriff’s Office, and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service.
The Operation is part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.