International manhunt leads to child porn bust in Georgia - CBS46 News

International manhunt leads to child porn bust in Georgia

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

The 123 victims of child sexual exploitation were identified by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations special agents during an international operation.

The sweep, called Operation Sunflower, was a joint operation with multiple states and international law enforcement agencies.

In Brunswick, GA, three children were rescued in November after a tip from Danish police alerted Interpol that images of the children were on a website in Denmark.

"To me, what more important thing can you do as a law enforcement officer but to save a child," Special Agent Brock Nicholson with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said. "That's why we do the job."

Without getting into specifics, Nicholson said his team used advanced techniques and good old fashioned police work to track down Stephen Keating, 52, of Jesup, GA.

"Keating is accused of child abuse material depicting two girls being sexually abused," Nicholson said. 

Nicholson did not comment on the relationship between Keating and the alleged victims. But he said in most cases of child abuse related to sexual assaults, the children know their attacker.

"People like to think it is the mad-stranger out abducting children, Nicholson said. "Unfortunately, that is the exception. The general rule is it someone they know, someone they trust."

Nicholson said because these children are so young and often times know the person attacking them, they do not come forward.

"You are literally talking about thousands upon thousands of victims out there, this is going on and you need to be very careful with your children," Nicholson said. "It is such a heinous thing and traumatic event, rarely are they going to be the ones that tell you about it."

ICE agents said 2012 set a record for the number of child predators arrested. A total of 1,655 were arrested on criminal charges related to child porn.

In 2012, a total of 292 victims were identified or rescued as a direct result of child pornography investigations.

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