Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have teamed up to fight those who would sexually exploit children, particularly through the Internet where the threat from such predators is growing.
"For over eight years, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada has made prosecuting crimes against the exploitable one of its top priorities," said U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden, who read a prepared statement during a news conference at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse on Monday.
Bogden, along with state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and representatives from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, Las Vegas and Henderson police, Nevada Child Seekers and the U.S. Postal Service, met with reporters to announce Nevada's role in the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, which was rolled out earlier Monday.
According to Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito, who heads the department's Crimes Against Youth and Family bureau, there are roughly 4,000 registered sex offenders in the valley.
With the aim of enhancing cooperation among agencies, law enforcement also seeks to enlist the public's help. Those who have information about child exploitation on the Internet can relay that information to their Internet service provider, or they can contact the FBI, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office or the national CyberTipline at 800-843-6578. An online site, www.cybertipline.com, can also take reports.
"Child prostitution and child pornography are multi-million-dollar businesses worldwide," said Steve Usiak of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security. He said victims are traumatized and many never recover.
Usiak said child predators are not easy to recognize. "All too often they are respected members of the community."
Usiak also said times have changed. Twenty years ago, about the only way a pedophile could get his hands on child pornography was through the mail. Now, he said, there are "thousands upon thousands" of images "literally a click away."
There is software that allows users to believe they are "untraceable," but Usiak said law enforcement has the technology to track those who trade in child pornography. "We will do everything in our power to keep children safe," he said.
Christopher Hoye of the U.S. Marshals said his office tracked down 20,000 fugitive sex offenders in 2009.
"All these numbers make you lose track of how important these investigations are," Hoye said.
More than 240 sex offenders have been prosecuted in federal court in Las Vegas in the past decade. Thousands more have been tried in Clark County District Court.
The end game, said Bogden, is to "better train investigators and prosecutors, advance law enforcement's technological capabilities and enhance research to inform decisions on deterrence, incarceration and monitoring. The strategy also includes a renewed commitment to public awareness and community outreach."
Contact Doug McMurdo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.