15 Utahns arrested in Operation Cyber Strike accused of using the internet to ‘sexually exploit children’

May 2, 2024, 4:26 PM | Updated: 6:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY The Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force arrested 15 individuals in a four-day operation from April 22 – April 25.

Operation Cyber Strike was an effort to locate and apprehend individuals who were “actively using the internet to sexually exploit children,” according to a release from the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

The operation involved 70 task force agents from 31 different federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement served search warrants at multiple homes of offenders who downloaded, viewed, and distributed child sexual abuse material. Agents also used undercover chats on social media to find individuals who were attempting to meet up with children for sexual activity.

“It’s a huge problem, and it’s a growing problem,” Matt Thompson, assistant commander over ICAC, said.

He said sexploitation is among the reasons why they take on focused efforts, like Operation Cyber Strike, where agencies essentially blitz an area of concern.

The operation late last month centered on the Wasatch Front

“The biggest thing that parents can do is just be there and ask a lot of questions,” Thompson said. “That really is our biggest tool, open dialogues on what our kids are seeing, what they need to look out for.”

He said predators are starting to take over actual teen accounts to then target minors.

“Essentially a real profile with a bad actor on the other side,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that with new apps coming out everyday, internet filters and security programs can’t keep up with it all. But an open and non-threatening relationship can fill in a lot of those gaps.

“I want to thank the many agents, affiliates and partners of Utah’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for their bravery and hard work in last week’s Operation Cyber Strike. I am convinced we have the best ICAC agents, prosecutors and affiliates in America,” Attorney General Sean Reyes said. “As disturbing as it is to have so many predators lurking in social media and gaming apps, it is equally comforting to know how effective our ICAC team is at combating those who actively seek to exploit children. This operation is another example of how local, state, and federal agencies work to keep Utah’s children and families safe from online threats.”

The operation was hosted by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office in Provo and arrests were made in Weber, Davis, Summit, Salt Lake, and Utah counties. The 15 individuals arrested face felony level charges including sexual exploitation of a minor, dealing in harmful materials to a minor, enticing a minor, and human trafficking of a child.

The agencies involved include: American Fork PD – ATF – AP&P Northern Region – AP&P Region III – Bluffdale PD – Clearfield PD— Davis Co. Atty. Ofc. – Davis Co. SO – Draper PD – HSI – Layton PD – Lehi PD – North Salt Lake PD – Ogden PD — Park City PD – Payson PD – RCFL – Roy PD – Salem PD – Sandy PD – Sevier Co. SO – South Salt Lake PD — Summit Co. SO – US Secret Service – Utah Attorney General’s Ofc. – Utah Co. Atty. Ofc. – Utah Co. SO — Weber State University PD – West Jordan PD – West Valley PD – Woods Cross PD

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Elder Paul Hardin and Sister Mary Hardin, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day...

Mark Jones

Sister missionary, 65, killed in California crash

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday evening a sister missionary died following a vehicle crash Saturday night in California.

9 hours ago

a black and white police car...

Mark Jones

Police investigating apparent murder-suicide in Salt Lake City home

Salt Lake City police are investigating the death of a father and his son as an apparent murder-suicide.

10 hours ago

People who live near the intersection of 2300 East and Canyon Road in Spanish Fork voiced their fru...

Kiersten Nunez

Residents express concern over Spanish Fork intersection where 2 young girls were hit

One day after two teenage girls were critically injured after being struck by a car, Spanish Fork residents voiced their concerns over the safety of the intersection.

10 hours ago

The South Salt Lake Police Department is pictured on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. The South Salt Lake Po...

Devin Oldroyd, KSL.com

South Salt Lake Police Department searching for missing, endangered 13-year-old

The South Salt Lake Police Department is looking for a missing and endangered 13-year-old girl Sunday.

14 hours ago

FILE (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Man critically injured in Salt Lake City stabbing

A man is in critical condition after he was stabbed in the Avenues neighborhood of downtown Salt Lake early Sunday.

16 hours ago

police lights...

Mary Culbertson

Six killed, 10 injured in Idaho Falls crash involving passenger van

Six people were killed and 10 others were injured in an Idaho Falls crash after a pickup truck collided with a passenger van.

16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

15 Utahns arrested in Operation Cyber Strike accused of using the internet to ‘sexually exploit children’