The FBI today announced
that more than 89 persons in over 20 states have been
charged in the first phase of a nationwide crackdown on
the proliferation of child pornography via the Internet.
During the course of this investigative initiative, known
as Operation Candyman, over 266 searches have
been conducted, with more searches anticipated. To date,
27 persons have been arrested and admitted to the prior
molestation of over 36 children. More arrests are anticipated
during the week and in coming months. Individuals identified
as subjects in Operation Candyman include
Little League coaches, a teachers aide, a guidance
counselor, school bus driver, foster care parent and professionals
in the medical, educational, military and law enforcement
demonstrates our commitment to protecting our nations
children from sexual predators. The FBIs investigation
has already resulted in the arrests of many individuals
who have targeted children as their victims. This extensive
operation should serve as a warning to others that we
will find and prosecute those who target and endanger
our children, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller
said, The FBI will diligently pursue and arrest
those individuals who exploit our children by distributing,
producing and exchanging child pornographic images.
should serve as an example that the FBI will not tolerate
the collectors and distributors of child pornography who
continue to exploit our children, Mueller said.
We will diligently shut down any and all websites,
Egroups, bulletin boards, and any other mediums that will
foster the continued exploitation of our children.
Egroups, maintained by Yahoo,
allow individuals to correspond with like-minded persons
via email, chat, bulletin boards, and file transfers.
Operation Candyman, named after its Egroup
Uniform Resource Locator, (URL), www.egroups.com/groups/thecandyman
was a yearlong undercover operation conducted by the FBIs
Houston Child Exploitation Task Force and the United States
Attorneys Office, Southern District of Texas. The
task force is comprised of select investigators from the
FBI and the Houston Police Department. The Candyman Egroup
allowed collectors and distributors of child pornography
to use online resources to retrieve and distribute child
All 56 FBI field offices,
nearly every U.S. Attorneys Office across the country,
and the Department of Justices Criminal Division,
through its Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section,
have participated extensively in this investigation in
an effort to identify members of the Candyman Egroup,
and will continue an aggressive investigation until all
identified perpetrators have been successfully arrested
and prosecuted. In addition to the Candyman Egroup, the
FBI has initiated investigations into other Egroups that
facilitated the distribution, production and exchange
of child pornography. It is estimated there were over
7,000 members of the Candyman Egroup, with some 2,400
residing in foreign countries.
Executive Assistant Director
Bruce J. Gebhardt, Criminal Investigative Division, said
FBI field offices carried out Operation Candyman
in concert with local and state law enforcement
agencies around the country. Without the continued
support of local and state law enforcement, it would be
difficult for the FBI to combat such an enormous tasking
of this magnitude, Gebhardt said.
To combat the proliferation
of online child sexual exploitation, the FBI established
a nationwide initiative code named Innocent Images.
The Innocent Images initiative is composed of 23 task
forces in 56 FBI field offices around the country, their
sole investigative purpose is to investigate and eradicate
online sexual exploitation of children and the production
and distribution of child pornography.
Since their inception in
1995, Innocent Images task forces have initiated over
5,700 investigations and have arrested and convicted over
3,000 persons. The task forces are made up of FBI, state
and local law enforcement, United States Attorneys, and
other federal and state agencies. At FBI Headquarters,
Criminal Investigative Division, Crimes Against Children
Unit, coordinated Operation Candyman.