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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

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For media inquiries only, contact:  Brian J. Gottstein
Email: bgottstein@oag.state.va.us (best contact method)
Phone: 804-786-5874

Attorney General Cuccinelli announces "Operation Phalanx"

~First-of-its kind, week-long operation resulted in 20 individual arrests~

RICHMOND (April 5, 2012) - Today, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced "Operation Phalanx," an undercover, collaborative law enforcement effort between Virginia's two Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces and the attorney general's office.  This first-of-its-kind operation in Virginia was conducted over a week long period in 2011 with the purpose of detecting and capturing online child predators. The attorney general's Computer Crime Section provided legal guidance throughout the operation. 

As a result of Operation Phalanx, 20 individuals across Virginia were arrested for online solicitation of a minor or distribution of child pornography offenses.  These include cases in the jurisdictions of Bedford, Fairfax, Prince William, Virginia Beach, Richmond, and Loudoun.  Additionally, 23 search warrants have been executed as a result of the investigations, and another 20 cases have been referred for investigation and prosecution outside of Virginia.  These referrals involve cooperation between Virginia's ICAC's and other ICACs across the country, as well as law enforcement agencies in Australia and France. 

"A primary responsibility of law enforcement is to protect our most innocent citizens-Virginia's children," said Cuccinelli.  "I want to thank the dozens of ICAC investigators from the two task forces, under the leadership of Colonel Flaherty and Sheriff Brown, for their participation in this important operation, and for their continued dedication and hard work to make sure that these predators are taken off the streets."

"I would also like to thank my Computer Crime Section, including Gene Fishel, Tommy Johnstone and Chip Muir, for their efforts in this operation and their continued prosecution of these important child exploitation crimes," the attorney general said.

"The Bedford County Sheriff's Office is honored to have been an Internet Crimes Against Children's Task Force since 1998. Our mission is and always will be the protection of our most valuable assets...our children," remarked Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown.  "The Bedford County Sheriff's Office, Southern Virginia ICAC Task Force, and its 71 affiliate agencies are extremely honored to have the Virginia State Police and the Attorney General's Office as partners in this battle we are waging against the sexual predators that surf the Internet looking for their next victim...one of our children. We will continue to fight this battle with all that we have and with God's help and our General Assembly's support we will make a difference."

"We know the presence of the NOVA/DC ICAC Task Force in today's virtual world has a very real-world impact on the safety and protection of our youth," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "It's through the dedicated efforts of the investigators from the 45 local, state and federal agencies participating in the task force combined with the remarkable work of our dedicated ICAC Digital Forensic Laboratory, and supported by two other state police regional digital forensic labs, that makes this collaboration such a success. As the cases and tips continue to increase, so will the vigilance and determination of the NOVA/DC ICAC Task Force members to safeguard the Commonwealth from those who choose to prey upon our children."

The Northern Virginia/DC ICAC, based with Virginia State Police, and the Southern Virginia ICAC, based in the Bedford County Sheriff's Office, serve as the law enforcement clearinghouses in Virginia for tips and leads involving child exploitation crimes, such as child pornography and online solicitation of minors.  Both task forces are comprised of dozens of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that have been working diligently for over ten years to ensure that Virginia's children remain safe.

The attorney general's Computer Crime Section is tasked with investigating and prosecuting child exploitation crimes and computer crimes across the commonwealth.  Members of the section help train law enforcement and prosecutors, and work to educate the public on the dangers associated with computers and the Internet.

NOVA/DC ICAC Task Force Affiliate Agencies

 

Air Force Office of Special Investigations                                  Metropolitan Police Department (DC)
Alexandria Police Department                                                  Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Arlington County Police Department                                         Orange County Sheriff's Office
Clarke County Sheriff's Office                                                 Page County Sheriff's Office
Culpeper County Sheriff's Office                                             Prince William County Police Department
Fairfax City Police Department                                                Quantico Police Department
Fairfax County Police Department                                            Rappahannock County Sheriff's Office
Falls Church Police Department                                               Rockingham County Sheriff's Office
Fauquier County Sheriff's Office                                              Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office      
FBI                                                                                   Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office       
Frederick County Sheriff's Office                                            Stafford County Sheriff's Office
Fredericksburg Police Department                                           Strasburg Police Department
George Mason University Police Department                              U.S. Court Services & Offender Supervision
Harrisonburg Police Department                                              U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Haymarket Police Department                                                 U.S. Department of Energy
Herndon Police Department                                                    U.S. Postal Service
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE)                            Vienna Police Department
IRS Criminal Investigative Services                                          Virginia Attorney General's Office
Leesburg Police Department                                                   Virginia State Police
Loudoun County Sheriff's Office                                               Warren County Sheriff's Office
Madison County Sheriff's Office                                               Warrenton Police Department
Manassas City Police Department                                             Winchester Police Department
Manassas Park City Police Department                                     Woodstock Police Department

More about Attorney General Cuccinelli

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A copy of this news release may be found on the attorney general's web site here.

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