WASHINGTON–U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been authorized to create an Angel Watch Center to expand efforts to alert foreign law enforcement partners about the intended travel by convicted registered child sex offenders from the United States to their countries, following the signature of International Megan’s Law by President Obama on Monday.
“ICE’s Operation Angel Watch plays a crucial role in the global fight against child sex tourism. Under this unique and innovative initiative, we are able to send actionable information to our law enforcement partners around the globe so that they can assess the situation and respond appropriately, whether that is to deny an individual entry into their country, or to monitor that individual’s travel for potential danger to children,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “The creation of a formalized and expanded Angel Watch Center further enhances our efforts to protect children around the world.”
Initially created in 2007 by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Operation Angel Watch is managed by the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit of the ICE Cyber Crimes Center and is a joint effort with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Operation Angel Watch targets individuals who have been previously convicted of sexual crimes against a child and who may pose a potential new threat: traveling overseas for the purpose of sexually abusing or exploiting minors, a crime known as “child sex tourism.”
Through Operation Angel Watch, HSI uses publicly available sex offender registry information and passenger travel data to strategically alert foreign law enforcement partners through its HSI attaché offices of a convicted child predator’s intent to travel to their country. In Fiscal Year 2015, HSI made over 2,100 notifications to more than 90 countries.
In addition to creating the Angel Watch Center, the new law provides the authority for the center to receive information from other countries about convicted child predators intending to travel to the United States, and it directs the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security, to seek agreements and use technical assistance with other countries so that the United States is notified in advance of incoming foreign sex offenders.
Angel Watch is conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.