Inside the FBI: Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force Expands
September 3, 2019
The FBI-led Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force becomes more robust to counter the global threat of online sexual exploitation of children.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI-led Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force becomes more robust to counter the global threat of online sexual exploitation of children.
Brian Herrick: While the primary focus of the FBI are U.S.-based victims or offenders, the fact that this is a global threat is really important. It's not just the global threat, it's a threat that's happening 24 hours a day across the Internet.
Halpern: That was Assistant Section Chief Brian Herrick, who says the task force is a select cadre of 53 international law enforcement experts representing 48 countries.
It was established in 2004 to focus strictly on addressing online sexual exploitation of children and is the largest task force of its kind.
Herrick: We've added a couple of new countries to our task force this year in emerging areas where the threat we're seeing is expanding—in countries in northern Africa and in places that we haven't had as robust of an Internet infrastructure before. As the Internet expands into those areas, so do people who are looking to exploit the Internet and use it for bad things.
Halpern: Every year, the FBI invites about a dozen international task force members to the U.S. for a month of training.
Herrick: The training that we provide to them is hands-on technical training about Internet investigations, how to identify people who are doing bad activity using the Internet and how children are being exploited, and some of the specialized tools we use to identify subjects.
Halpern: Herrick goes on to say the training helps to build relationships that are essential to addressing the threat.
Herrick: When we need to get an identity of a child or to identify an offender who's actively abusing a child online, we can reach out to those task force members very quickly and stop that abuse from happening.
Halpern: Frank Rayner and Kurt Wesche of the Australian Federal Police recently completed the training and will share what they’ve learned with their colleagues down under.
Frank Rayner: I think to come here and meet people from other countries as well as colleagues from the FBI who are working the same crime type, it really brings it home to us that it is a global problem, and it won’t be solvable unless we all work together.
Kurt Wesche: The experience has been wonderful, and I think it’s a real credit to the FBI for running such an international task force. To get 12 countries together here for four weeks in America, it’s been a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Halpern: The Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force is just one tool the FBI and its partners employ to address online sexual exploitation of children. To learn more—and how to protect your children from this crime—visit fbi.gov. With Inside the FBI, I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.