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Arkansas State Police Arrest 42 People in Crimes Against Children

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNOE) – A special operation by Arkansas State Police arrested 42 people on suspicion of crimes against children. The arrests began on March 10 and continued through May.

According to ASP, the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit has launched Operation Cyber ​​Highway Safety Check to identify and stop sex offenders.

The reason for this action was the beginning of summer.

According to the ASP, the ICAC receives the most cyber-related tips from electronic service providers and complaints from the public during the spring and summer holidays.

“Unfortunately, children are often alone and at their most vulnerable during the summer,” said ASP Colonel Mike Hagar. “Since March, our ICAC Task Force officers have increased their efforts to protect our children by pursuing individuals who attempt to exploit them. Our mission is to investigate, prosecute and prevent cybercrimes against children and to make Arkansas a safe place for its youngest citizens.”

ASP officers executed 178 search warrants and conducted over 1,600 home visits on registered sex offenders. In addition, ICAC officers initiated 160 investigations and filed 63 cases for prosecution in state and federal courts. Of these filed cases, 45 were accepted for indictment by the grand jury.

According to the ASP, nine of the 42 arrests were for malicious crimes. Two cases involved child sex trafficking. Five children were rescued from ongoing sexual abuse and 22 children were identified as new victims.

“This nationwide operation was the most successful in the task force's history,” said Major Stacie Rhoads, ASP's Criminal Investigation Division chief. “Child molesters abuse the innocence and trust of children. Our relentless pursuit of those who abuse children will ensure they are held accountable for their actions.”

ASP forces said they would continue working to end child exploitation by distributing informational posters to all schools with students aged 12 and above during the 2024-25 school year.

The posters are designed to educate the public about sextortion by providing examples of clear and recognisable signs of the crime. There will also be a QR code that leads to information about reducing the risk of bullying and shaming associated with sextortion.

At aricac.org, parents can find tools to help protect their children from technology-facilitated sexual exploitation and cybercrime.

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