The Utah Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force has charged 19 individuals with child exploitation-related crimes after a four-day undercover operation throughout Utah. Operation Digital Siege occurred between August 16 and August 19, 2023, after weeks of preparation and cooperation from law enforcement agencies in Northern and Southern Utah.
Task Force agents engaged with individuals who sought to exploit children for sexual purposes. Additionally, the operation involved executing residential search warrants at the homes of those who distributed and possessed child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes was on site at the command center to welcome new ICAC affiliate agencies and work with the teams into the night. Three Utah Legislators also visited to observe the operation.
Joining House Minority Leader Angela Romero and Representative Jay Cobb, House Majority Assistant Whip Karianne Lisonbee commented, ”I was very impressed by the preparation, professionalism and productivity of the ICAC team. Utahns need to know how fortunate we are to have such capable and effective law enforcement personnel protecting us and our children.”
General Reyes added:
Sting operations like Operation Digital Siege are bittersweet. On one hand, I am elated we are prosecuting suspected predators, pornographers and pedophiles. Nineteen alleged perpetrators are off the street and off the internet. But cases like these also remind me how pervasive these dangers are in our state.
I won’t rest and neither will my teams until we have done everything possible to protect our children online. The reason we work so hard day and night on these cases is that we have children too. All kids deserve to grow up without being exploited, abused or trafficked.
Thank you and congratulations to AG Supervisory Special Agent Sete Aula’i for his leadership, to all the agencies on our ICAC Taskforce and to State Representatives Lisonbee, Romero and Cobb for embedding with us to help bring more awareness to these types of predatory crimes.
During the four-day operation, 19 offenders were arrested, with more arrests expected shortly. This collective effort involved over 70 task force agents representing 29 distinct federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The charges brought against the apprehended offenders are extensive, including enticement of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, dealing in harmful materials to a minor, sexual extortion (“sextortion”), and human trafficking of a child.
Participating in this critical initiative were the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Regional Computer Forensic Lab (RCFL), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), AP&P Regions 3 and 5, and various local police agencies, including American Fork, Cedar City, Centerville, Davis County, Draper, Enoch, Grand County, Iron County, Lehi, Logan, Orem, Salem, Sandy, South Jordan, South Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Saratoga Springs, St. George, Utah County, Washington County, West Jordan, and Woods Cross.