‘Operation Broken Heart’ Results In 46 Arrests In Maryland

It’s part of a nationwide  effort targeting individuals involved child sexual exploitation.
46 arrests were made in Maryland recently as part of “Operation Broken Heart.”  Lt. Matthew Kail, the Commander of the State Police Computer Crimes Section, says this effort was part of a two-month initiative across the country to go after individuals involved in child sexual exploitation.

He says Maryland  law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and others who are part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, conducted 198 investigations, and served 86 search and seizure warrants between April and May of 2016. “Some of the investigations were conducted in pro-active operations that we do, and basically determining individuals engaged in the trading and possessing of child pornography,” he says.

Lt. Kail says some of the investigative techniques included the use of undercover police officers posing as someone else on the internet, looking for those  connected with the child pornography trade, and individuals looking for children for sexual activity.

But, he says, investigators also received tips from multiple sources. “Some were from cybertips that we received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in which they receive information from different arenas in the internet where things are reported to the National Center and then the information is pushed out to that local ICAC {Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force}. And investigatively, we follow up on those leads,” he says.

These people who were arrested are charged with possession of child pornography, possession of child pornography with intent to distribute and sexual solicitation of a minor. Lt. Kail says these suspects come from all over the state of Maryland.

But investigating and arresting people is only part of ICAC’s role. Lt. Kail says personnel also do outreach with citizens to educate them about the less than positive side of the internet. “We go to schools, community groups, public schools, such as county fairs, and we try to talk to these groups about the dangers of the internet,” he says.

During the recent “Operation Broken Heart,” State Police say investigators educated more than 2,300 individuals during 37 educational programs.

Lt. Kail also reminds parents to be watchful of their children’s use of the internet. If their kids have I-Phones,  he says put restrictions on their use, such not allowing their hildren’s to use  these devices after 10:00 PM. “Don’t let your child have that phone in their room. Take the phone and put it in your room. So if someone is trying to text your child and reach out through the internet, that’s some you would  see,” he says.

In addition, parents should keep the lines of communication open about the use of the internet, especially if the kids are contacted by a  stranger over their I-Phones. “Encourage your child to talk with you about internet safety. Go through the phone with your child,” says Lt. Kail. “If your child is approached by someone on the internet, don’t make it such a negative experience ; make it a positive where you can talk about it, and say ‘hey, we need to report this.'”