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Remarks by
Louis M. Reigel III
Assistant Director, Cyber Division
Innocent Images National Initiative Press Conference
Washington, D.C.
February 24, 2006

Thank you Director Mueller, and thank you for your support of this important program.

Good morning.

I am pleased to be able to share with you some of the successes of the Cyber Division's Innocent Images National Initiative, to include its new and innovative international task force.

In May 1995, the FBI began an undercover operation called "Innocent Images" within its Baltimore Division. The very first communication in the Innocent Images file reads: "In view of the highly vulnerable status of the victims, the heinous nature of the crimes, and the apparent extensive nature of computer related pedophile activities, it is recommended that Baltimore [Division] consider opening an investigation focusing on computer bulletin boards which have as their objective either the recruitment of minors for sexual purposes or the distribution of photographic images of children involved in sexually explicit conduct."

Today, we have more than 30 undercover operations nationwide, and hundreds of agents and task force officers working more than 2500 ongoing Innocent Images investigations.

Over the past 10 years, the Innocent Images program has made a significant impact on the child pornography crime problem. The program has led to 15,556 cases being opened; 4,784 criminals being charged; 6,145 subjects being arrests; and 4,822 convictions obtained to date. The cases which led to these statistics were multi-jurisdictional with no geographical boundaries, and both national and international in scope.

We have come a long way from the early electronic bulletin boards that pre-dated the Internet. Today an estimated 21 million teenagers use the Internet, with 51% online daily. As children use computers more and more, online child predators take advantage of emerging technologies to facilitate their unthinkable criminal activities.

Today, the Innocent Images program is an intelligence-driven, proactive, multi-agency investigative effort that pursues offenders who utilize websites, chat rooms, peer to peer networks, Instant Messaging programs, eGroups, NewsGroups, file servers, and other online services to exploit children.

Our top investigative priority is the disruption and dismantling of online groups, organizations, and for-profit enterprises which seek to exploit children.

To address all of our priorities, the Innocent Images program readily draws on the resources of its federal, state, local...and now international law enforcement partners. In addition to commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Innocent Images program, I am pleased to announce that the FBI has been participating in the first-ever Innocent Images International Task Force, which began in September 2004. This innovative task force is comprised of international investigators that work side-by-side with FBI agents to combat child sexual exploitation globally.

Countries who have assigned investigators to the International Task Force include: Belarus, Croatia, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Finland, and Canada. We are also working jointly with EUROPOL on several investigations. Further the task force has worked closely with several other countries, to include Spain, and Bulgaria.

The International Task Force was initially a six-month initiative targeting websites that distribute child pornography, but it has grown to include other child exploitation investigations. New representatives from other countries participate on a rotational basis, and investigations and task force membership continue when the officers return to their home countries.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Ernie Allen, the CEO and president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Center and the FBI have combined resources to help identify victims depicted in child pornography. The merger of our data has resulted in the identification of 180 victims who were previously considered unidentified. Additionally, FBI analysts and analysts from the National Center review hundreds of tips every day. Many of the arrests cited in my remarks today are a direct result of the work done at the National Center.

The FBI is determined to pursue anyone who would prey upon our children for sexual gratification or financial gain...anywhere in the world. The FBI's effort is consistent with the top priorities of the Department of Justice as articulated by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week.