11 hours ago  •  Perla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star

Three Arizona men are among 245 adults arrested in an international investigation of child exploitation called "Operation Sunflower."

The investigation was part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's efforts to find and rescue victims and arrest abusers.

Billy Mills, 34, of Tucson, was arrested Nov. 14 on charges of possessing child pornography, according to court records. His trial is set for February. His attorney, Dan Cooper, said neither he nor his client wanted to comment. Two other men were arrested in Phoenix.

During the operation, launched in November, 123 victims were identified by federal officials as being sexually exploited. Forty-four children were rescued from their abusers and 79 were identified as being exploited by others outside their home or are now adults who were victimized as children. Five were younger than 3.

"With the Internet, we have seen the proliferation of child exploitation," said Amber Cargile, spokeswoman for the ICE field office in Phoenix. "These cases represent many that are out there."

She didn't know if any of the victims were in Arizona.

Child-exploitation cases are a top priority for ICE, she said, because "it involves some of society's most vulnerable members."

"Operation Sunflower" was a targeted operation that lasted a little less than two months. But Cargile said investigations are year-long.

The investigation was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of a successful rescue in which the identification of a sunflower-shaped highway road sign led to an 11-year old girl in Kansas, according to a news release. Operation Sunflower is named for the first case conducted one year ago under the agency's new Victim Identification Program.

The Sunflower case began in November 2011 when Danish law enforcement officials shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement posts on a chat board indicating that a 16-year-old boy was planning to rape an 11-year-old girl. The suspect was soliciting advice online and posting images of the girl. She was eventually rescued.

"This is a very significant operation," said Michelle Collins, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "ICE has dedicated substantial efforts to this arena in protecting children."

But there's still a lot of work to do, she added. The center receives about 8,000 tips a week.


Anyone with information or tips that can assist in these investigations can visit www.ICE.gov/tips or call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo.

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Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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