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'Operation Renewed Hope'

From February 26 – March 8, 2024, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber Crimes Center’s (C3) Child Exploitation Investigations Unit hosted Victim Identification Task Force - Operation Renewed Hope II (ORH II) at C3 in Fairfax, Virginia. The operation, which featured victim identification specialists from around the world, focused on reviewing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) series featuring victims who have never been identified by law enforcement. The specialists reviewed over 900 CSAM series and over 95,000 files during the two-week operation. A coordination team made up of HSI and INTERPOL personnel produced and disseminated over 400 referrals to HSI offices and international law enforcement partners after victim identification specialists discovered new information about the possible identification of the unknown victim(s).  Specialized tools, to include Artificial Intelligence enabled tools, along with other advanced technological and investigative techniques, was utilized during the operation. To date, over 30 victims have been contacted and positively identified by law enforcement.

ORH II consisted of approximately 27 international victim identification specialists from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and United Kingdom; representing the following agencies: INTERPOL, Europol, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Crime Agency, Australian Federal Police, Gendarmerie Nationale, An Garda Siochana, Belgium Federal Judicial Police, Bundeskriminalamt, Dutch National Police, Police and Border Guard of Estonia, Royal Thai Police, Swedish National Police, Spanish National Police, Guardia Civil, State Police of Latvia, Metropolitan Police Service, Policia Judiciaria, Victoria Police, Western Australian Police, French National Department for the Protection of Children/National Directorate of the Judicial Police and the Polish National Police.

In addition to international partners, ORH II included victim identification experts from HSI domestic field offices, the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Northern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and Thomson Reuters Special Services.

In 2023, C3 hosted Operation Renewed Hope I, a first-of-its-kind victim identification task force hosted in the United States. During this initial iteration, victim identification specialists were represented from 14 foreign law enforcement agencies including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Estonia, France, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Europol and Interpol. As a result of this operation, over 300 referrals were sent to HSI offices and international law enforcement partners. Over 100 victims have been positively identified from the original ORH.

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US Department of Homeland Security (HSI)

Stephen Reuthers

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