Task Force to Protect Children Online Proving to be Successful
BROWNSVILLE – A federal task force is collaborating with several Rio Grande Valley agencies to protect children from online predators.
The force was created several months ago and so far it’s proven to be successful.
The Cameron County district attorney said the success rate of the Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigation Task Force is truly shocking.
Vincent Embry, a father of four, told CHANNEL 5 NEWS as social media continues to grow more and more accessible to children, so do his fears.
“Technology is moving way to fast and you have kids that can bring cell phones to school, iPhones and stuff like that and next thing you know you push one button and next thing you know there is pornography or anything right at the touch of a button,” Embry explained.
Embry told CHANNEL 5 NEWS he only allows his children online under his supervision. He said he knows he’s unique in that regard.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said he knows all too well how many online predators are searching for young children on social media. His office joined a task force to do something about it.
“This child exploitation task force, it’s a proactive taskforce that goes out there and searches for predators via the internet,” Saenz explained.
Saenz said a member of his staff poses as a teenage girl on social media. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS it doesn’t take long for an adult predator to reach out and offer to meet the underage girl. He said the operation has been successful 100 percent of the time.
“Here it’s been very successful but in a negative way, meaning that every time we have set up the operation it has succeeded. In other words, we have lured, we have caught, we have arrested a predator,” Saenz told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.
At the moment, the task force isn’t releasing the number of arrest for the security of their operations.
Saenz said when many of the predators are arrested they have pornography and alcohol in their possession.
He tells us many of those predators have been sentenced up to 20 years in prison. He told CHANNEL 5 NEWS you can’t judge a book by its cover.
“We have found that the people that out there lurking, you know luring young ladies, young girls, are not the individual that you envision. These are highly professional individuals with resources,” Saenz said.
Saenz explained the task force can’t win the battle against these online trolls alone. He said parents need to be more aware of their children’s social media accounts.
The DA recommended monitoring who your children speak to online. Embry said he plans to continue doing his job as a social media supervisor.