App to Help Feds Nab Child Predators Expands to Android

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ICE says iPhone version was a success, expands program.

An app that enables the public to help federal law enforcement locate suspected child predators on Tuesday launched for Android-based smartphones and in Spanish.

The iPhone version of the app debuted in September 2013 and within 36 hours led Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to a suspect, ICE said in a press release.

The predator app -- a free download at Apple’s App Store and iTunes and at the Google Play store -- allows users to receive phone alerts about suspected predators, share information on social media, submit tips and view news of arrests.

Led by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations team, Operation Predator is an international initiative to stop child predators.

“Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children,” ICE said.

In 2013 alone, the program led to more than 2,000 arrests. So far this year, several suspects featured on the iPhone version of the app have been arrested, an ICE spokeswoman told Nextgov.

ICE provided Nextgov with a timeline of recent "Jane and John Doe" unknown suspect cases for which agents requested the public's help via the predator app:

  • Jun. 9, 2014: An unknown fugitive is added to the app (suspect remains at large).
  • Apr. 11, 2014: A California fugitive is added to the app.
  • April 3, 2014: A former Bakersfield, California-area man featured on the app is captured in Mexico
  • Mar. 18, 2014: An unknown fugitive is added to the app. Suspect is captured within 30 hours.
  • Jan. 17, 2014: California fugitive who fled to Mexico is added to the app. (He is captured April 3, 2014.)
  • Dec. 16, 2013: HSI adds "John Doe" unknown fugitive to its smartphone app and website, appealing to the public for tips. Subject arrested hours later.
  • Oct. 23, 2013: A fugitive is added to the app (suspect remains at large).
  • Sept. 12, 2013: ICE launches smartphone app profiling known child pornography fugitives and one "John Doe." Less than 36 hours later, one of the fugitives is caught in Detroit.

Operation Predator also hosts an online suspect alerts page and is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance to deter online child sexual abuse.

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