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Department of Justice arrests 60-plus in nationwide internet operation

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MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Justice officials say they arrested dozens of people this spring as part of a national push to capture child sex predators.

The agency announced Wednesday that it arrested about 60 people as part of Operation Broken Heart in April and May. The operation involved 62 task forces around the country and targeted offenders who traffic in child pornography, entice children online, engage in child sex trafficking and engage in child sex tourism.

The operation netted 1,012 arrests across more than 40 states.

Wisconsin DOJ also arrested 16 suspected child sex predators and child sex traffickers during Operation New Hope, a weeklong state operation at the end of May.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel issued the following statement in a news release:

“There is no higher charge I have as Attorney General than to lock up sexual predators and to empower our local law enforcement to do the same. Internet crimes against children are often the most complex cases law enforcement and prosecutors take on, involving complicated web networks that cross state lines. Operations like this one allow law enforcement agencies across the nation to work together in a focused manner to lock up these predators. DOJ and Wisconsin’s ICAC task forces’ work to arrest more than 80 suspected criminals and train so many people on internet safety will help keep our children safe and our communities strong.”

The national crackdown targeted offenders who: (one) possess, manufacture, and distribute child pornography; (two) engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; (three) engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of children (commonly referred to as child sex trafficking), and (four) engage in child sex tourism (traveling abroad for the purpose of sexually abusing foreign children). The operation included more than 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.