Home News Stories 2006 February Innocent Images Statistics
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Innocent Images Statistics

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Innocent Images National Initiative, February 2006

Statistical Accomplishments:

Online child pornography/child sexual exploitation investigations, which are worked under the FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative, accounted for 38% of all investigations worked under the FBI’s entire Cyber Division in fiscal year 2005.

Innocent Images grew exponentially between fiscal years 1996 and 2005 with a:

  • 2026% increase in cases opened (113 to 2402)
  • 856% increase in informations & indictments (99 to 946)
  • 2325% increase in arrests, locates & summons (68 to 1649)
  • 1312% increase in convictions & pretrial diversions (68 to 994)

Between fiscal years 1996 - 2005, the Innocent Images National Initiative has recorded the following statistical accomplishments:

Number of Cases Opened
Number of Informations & Indictments
Number of Arrests, Locates & Summons
Number of Convictions & Pretrial Diversions

New Innocent Images Initiatives:

Endangered Child Alert Program: On 02/21/2004 the FBI began its Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP), a new and aggressive approach to identify unknown individuals involved in the sexual abuse of children and production of child pornography. The ECAP uses national and international media exposure of unknown adults featured in child pornography and displays their face on the “Seeking Information” section of the FBI’s website in hopes someone can identify them. Their face will eventually be broadcast on the television show America’s Most Wanted: America Fights Back if the unknown child pornography subject is not identified from the website. Of particular significance in these cases was that for the first time, the Innocent Images program obtained “John Doe” arrest warrants based solely on images acquired through undercover investigations. It is believed that national and international exposure will lead to rapid identifications and arrests of persons involved in child pornography and sexual abuse of minors. This new method is intended to aggressively pursue and thwart individuals who would abuse or harm our nation’s children.

To date, the ECAP has successfully identified and arrested four previously-unknown child abuse subjects. These investigations have led to the identification and arrest of two additional child abuse subjects and the identification of at least thirty child victims.

Operation “Peer Pressure”: In November 2003, the FBI initiated Phase I of “Operation Peer Pressure” a nationwide initiative to target users of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks to collect and distribute child pornography. (P2P) networks are free file-sharing programs that allow users to find and exchange files from other users with the same Internet software. Once a user installs a P2P software application, they can directly access and search for files in designated folders on other user’s computers. During this phase, the FBI conducted 166 online sessions in which undercover FBI Agents download child pornography from offender’s computers. These sessions resulted in the identification of 106 subjects located throughout the U.S. Using this evidence gathered during the undercover operation, Agents obtained search warrants for subjects’ residences where computers and other contraband were seized. 41 of the FBI’s 56 field offices were involved in this first phase of operation “Peer Pressure”. Additional phases are ongoing. As of 01/04/2006, over 300 searches were executed, 69 subjects were indicted, 63 subjects were arrested, and over 40 convictions have been achieved.

These cases have charged not only offenses related to the possession and distribution of child pornography, but also sexual abuse of children. Peer Pressure investigations have identified several individuals who have previously been convicted of sex offenses and several registered sex offenders. In one such case by the FBI’s Houston Division, a search conducted by FBI agents found a subject who was in possession of hundreds of child sexual abuse images, as well as several violent movies depicting graphic sexual abuses of children. This subject also confessed to molesting his seven year old stepdaughter. In another case by the FBI’s Albany Division, Agents questioned an individual who immediately confessed to possessing hundreds of images and movies depicting the sexual abuse of children. This individual also disclosed to Agents that he had molested two girls, ages 6 and 8.

It is important for parents to be educated to the risks associated with peer-to-peer networking. While not all aspects of these networks are bad, like other Internet services, they provide pedophiles with a false sense of anonymity to collect and transmit images. This sense of anonymity encourages pedophiles to openly share as much of their child pornography to as wide an audience as possible. In addition, pedophiles will often use innocuous or popular search terms to expose innocent children and adults to graphic child pornographic images. This creates a situation in which children search P2P networks for their favorite pop music artist only to find search results which include child pornography. Parents should be aware that access to these networks is free and exposure to child pornography is not uncommon.

Organized eGroups: In 2003, the FBI began a nationwide initiative to investigate child sexual abuse in eGroups. An eGroup is an online forum for people who share a common interest to easily communicate and share information with one another. Many different online services host eGroups. An eGroup consists of a website on which members can post messages, photos, videos, and other files. In addition, the eGroup also acts as an e-mail forwarding service where sending an e-mail with attachments to the eGroup (which requires only a single e-mail address) may be forwarded to any eGroup member choosing to receive such forwards. E-mails sent to an eGroup are also typically posted on the eGroup’s website. When accessing an eGroup that is used for child pornography, one will typically find photos, videos, and e-mail messages posted by eGroup members that contain child pornography.

eGroups used for illegal purposes are often user-created and, therefore, they typically are not listed in any online directory for non-members to find. Membership in child pornographic eGroups is typically by invite only, which ensures that individuals do not just stumble across them and join. The owner or a moderator of an eGroup approves members for admission to a closed or restricted eGroup. Members log in to their eGroup with a username and password.

During this initiative, FBI agents were provided consent by subjects to assume their online identity (including their username and password). Using this account, an undercover agent accessed the eGroups that the subject was a member of and collected evidence of transmission of child pornography by multiple members of the eGroups. Simultaneous search warrants were executed on all identified transmitters of child pornography. These searches yielded evidence of additional crimes, to include child molestation and the possession, production, and advertising of child pornography. As of 01/04/2006, over 180 searches were executed, 162 subjects were indicted, 89 subjects were arrested, and over 100 convictions have been achieved.