BIRMINGHAM, AL (WLOX) - People who produce child pornography use the latest technology and social networking to share their evil deeds with others. Now federal investigators are hoping those same two things will help stop them for good.
A new smartphone app launched Thursday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is aimed at finding the most wanted child predators in the country. The Operation Predator app is the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement.
"When children are being sexually abused and exploited, it's a race against the clock to rescue the child and bring the predator to justice," said ICE Acting Director John Sandweg. "These investigations are one of our highest priorities, and in today's world, we need to be technologically savvy and innovative in our approach."
The Operation Predator app enables those who download it to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to investigators by calling or submitting an online tip.
"The creation and launch of this application provides ICE another useful tool to reach the public," said ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale. "We recognize that people receive a great deal of information on their mobile devices and we are hopeful that this app will encourage them to submit tips about suspects and to learn more about our work investigating child exploitation crimes."
The app also provides users with news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators, as well as resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.
Currently, the app can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or iTunes. ICE is also planning to expand compatibility to other smartphones in the near future.
Download the app at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/operation-predator/id695130859
Remember, there are several other traditional ways to contact investigators about suspected child predators or any suspicious activity. You may call the ICE Tip Line, which is staffed 24-hours a day: (866) 347-2423 from the U.S. & Canada or (802) 872-6199 from anywhere in the world, or complete an online tip form at www.ice.gov/tips/.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.