IJM supported the FBI and Philippine authorities this week in back-to-back cybersex trafficking operations. Nine boys and girls—ranging from 2 to 10 years old—were removed from two separate homes.
As part of their annual Operation Cross Country, the FBI rescued 82 victims and arrested 239 suspects for trafficking crimes in the U.S. During their investigation, the agency also uncovered images of Filipino children who had been sexually exploited by Americans.
They referred the cases to Philippines law enforcement agencies to find and stop the criminal facilitators setting up these horrific shows. In a typical cybersex trafficking case, a foreigner wires a secure payment to someone in the Philippines so that he can direct live sexual abuse of children over the internet.
Following a month-long investigation, IJM assisted the National Bureau of Investigations and FBI to remove three children in the first operation on October 15, including a 2-year-old girl, her 5-year-old brother, and their 10-year-old cousin.
Just days later, on October 19, IJM assisted the Philippine National police’s Women and Children Protection Center with an operation in the same area of Metro Manila. In yet another home in this crowded, low-income neighborhood, children were being routinely sexually exploited in front of a computer screen. Six children were removed in this second operation, including four girls and two boys ranging from 5 to 9 years old.
IJM staff were on the ground to support authorities and ensure the victims were well-cared for as they settled into a safe location where they could sleep, play, and enjoy warm meals. The boys and girls will be placed at aftercare shelters in the coming days.
The operations in Manila were a reminder that human trafficking—especially cybersex trafficking—is a crime that seeps across borders and thrives in secrecy.
IJM will continue to assist authorities as they analyze evidence and bring cases against the suspects who accepted payments to abuse children in their care. Cybersex trafficking will continue to spread like a plague until laws are routinely enforced and criminal facilitators profiting from these abusive shows start to fear real consequences in court.
Children from the second operation, now safe at the survivor center.