YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Help track down child sex predators? There's an app for that

September 12, 2013|By Kate Mather

Los Angeles-based agents hope a new mobile app launched by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will help them track down a child sexual predator seen in recently found videos, officials said Thursday.

The case is among the initial investigations featured on ICE's publicly available Operation Predator app, which launched Thursday morning. Deemed the "first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement," the app provides information about suspected child sexual predators in hopes of generating tips leading to their arrests, ICE officials said.

Users will be able to see photos and receive alerts about fugitive suspects, as well as report tips anonymously at any time, officials said. The app also highlights "John Doe" cases -- such as the investigation involving the Los Angeles agents -- in which the suspects have not yet been identified.

The Los Angeles case surfaced earlier this year, when officials executing a search warrant found videos of a man sexually abusing a girl. Authorities said the man's whereabouts were not known, though he was believed to be in the United States or Canada.

Authorities have been confronted with new challenges in locating sexual predators or child victims, as technology allows photos and videos to quickly spread across the Internet, making it difficult to pinpoint their origins. Claude Arnold, the special agent in charge of ICE's Los Angeles division, said the app is another way for the agency to utilize the public's help in their investigations.

In a statement issued Thursday, Arnold pointed to another local case in which tipsters helped track a suspect down within hours of ICE going public with its case.

In January, ICE publicized photos of a man and woman depicted in a set of widely circulated child porn photos. Tips immediately started pouring in, and the female suspect -- identified as 52-year-old Letha Montemayor Tucker of North Hills -- was located and arrested about 10 hours later. The alleged victim, who was about 12 when the photos were taken, was found within a week.

In the statement, Arnold said that case highlighted "how vital the community's help can be" and showed the potential of the new app.

"The creation and launch of this application provides ICE with another useful tool to reach the public and track down these dangerous offenders," he said.


Fatal hit-and-run closes three eastbound lanes of 60 Freeway

McDonald's manager pleads not guilty to robbery, kidnapping

Ex-TSA agent who allegedly threatened LAX leaves trail of packages

Twitter: @katemather | Google+

Los Angeles Times Articles