U.S. citizens engaging in child sex tourism abroad have been formally warned by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as the organization makes prosecution of perpetrators a priority.
Americans travel to foreign countries in the millions each year. Some of these travelers commit commercial sex acts with children, causing extremely detrimental and enduring consequences to children’s physical and psychological well-being, and even death.
Many cases of child sexual exploitation occur in developing countries because of the availability of children in prostitution. Weak local law enforcement, corruption, and the internet also compound the situation as sex tourists take advantage of these factors to avoid apprehension and prosecution.
The U.S. government has enhanced its ability to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children by passing legislation such as the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act (PROTECT Act) and the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization Act. Ninety-three suspects have been arrested by special agents of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) over the past nine years. Among those arrested were a former Peace Corps volunteer to South Africa and two U.S. citizens who engaged in child sexual exploitation in Nicaragua and Haiti.
HSI operates 73 offices located in 47 countries worldwide. These offices act as liaison to local government counterparts. Advanced technology is employed to detect all forms of sexual exploitation of children by American individuals or groups abroad. HSI’s Child Exploitation Investigation Unit plays a vital role in such trans-border, large-scale investigation and the management of investigative activities under the Operation Predator program.
The message to U.S. citizens is clear. Peter Vincent, Director of HSI’s Office of International Affairs said, “If you dare abuse a child abroad, we will find you, send you back to the United States and prosecute you for your crimes. You might be out of the country, but you are not out of reach of U.S. law enforcement.”
To learn more about HSI, visit www.ICE.gov/HSI.
To read ICE’s formal warning, Click Here.