Twenty-nine Southland children are among 1,004 victims of child sexual abuse and online exploitation that have been identified or rescued nationwide this year as a result of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigations, officials said Monday.
The Southern California victims identified or rescued via investigations by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations include 17 boys and 12 girls, according to ICE.
“Among them were a 6-year-old and 14-year-old found by Homeland Security Investigations special agents in Los Angeles based on a lead provided by law enforcement authorities in Switzerland,” according to an ICE statement.
“In April 2015, Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles initiated an investigation based on that lead. A search warrant executed a few months later resulted in the seizure of data that contained evidence of child pornography production involving the two minors.”
Arrested as a result of the investigation was Francisco Tzarax, who is awaiting trial on state charges, according to ICE.
Tzarax, 23, of Los Angeles was arrested July 28 and has been charged with oral copulation/sexual penetration with a child under 10, committing a lewd act on a child, possession of child pornography and using a minor for a sex act, according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
Homeland Security Investigations special agents “have arrested or assisted in the arrest of 2,394 child predators worldwide in 2015, in child exploitation investigations ranging from possession, production and distribution of online child pornography to child enticement and child sex tourism,” according to ICE.
Added ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana: “When a child is being sexually abused or exploited, it’s a race against time for investigators to identify and rescue that child. ICE is fully committed to conducting victim-centered investigations in which the identification, rescue and stabilization of the victim is the first priority. When we identify a victim, more often than not we also find the perpetrator.”