ICE launches app to help catch fugitive child molesters

September 12, 2013 7:20:39 PM PDT
The federal government is launching a new smartphone app to help catch fugitive child molesters. ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, calls the app Operation Predator.

You can download the free app from Apple. ICE says they'll also have the software on other smartphones in the near future. What they want is the public's help in catching these fugitive sex offenders. ICE says this app is the first of its kind among federal law enforcement agencies.

If you open up ICE's new smartphone app, this is one of the first mugs you'll see. Kevin Trask is a 37-year-old paramedic who once lived in the Bay Area. He disappeared last year after being indicted on child pornography charges.

"He is responsible for the distribution of over 700 images and some videos of child sexual exploitation," said Kit Welch, HSI assistant special agent in charge.

The app's alert page lists all of the fugitives, their pictures and backgrounds. ICE hopes someone out there will know where they are.

The app makes it easy for that person to contact investigators. You can either text online or press the button which allows you to phone in the tip.

The agency has already had success using social media to capture fugitives.

Last May in Monterey, ICE arrested David Stevens for child molestation after posting his picture on Facebook.

"Within 24 hours, tips came flooding in and we were able to apprehend that person," Welch said.

Authorities also hope the app will help them find registered sex offenders who fail to check in with local police. The trouble is many are homeless and finding them is difficult.

"If you went through Megan's Law and you looked, queried a search looking for these people, they wouldn't show up in the designated areas," said Kurtis Stenderup with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office in an August interview.

Last month, a multi-agency task force went into homeless encampments along the Guadalupe River looking for 20 fugitives. They could only find a handful.

Also on the software are "John Does," those seen in child porn, whose identities are unknown. Investigators first saw this man in videos seven years ago. They're hoping the new app will lead to a name and his arrest.

To download the free app from Apple, click here.


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