Over 1.6 Million Social Media Users Help Arrest Alleged Child Sex Predator
An alleged child sex predator was arrested recently in Raleigh, North Carolina with the help of a public tip and social media users, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) press release. William Akers is accused of possessing child pornography, as well as abusing an eight year old girl on video. ICE used social media to ask the public for help finding him. The story reached more than 1.6 million people, resulting in over 80 leads from the public, and ultimately, his arrest.
The proliferation of the story on social media and in news outlets helped HSI investigate the incident. “I am grateful for the American public’s quick action in response to our appeal for help,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “Within hours of our request for assistance, more than a million people took notice and started spreading the word on social media and in the press. Because of this incredible support, we were able to identify and arrest a man accused of grossly violating an innocent child.”
HIS conducted the investigation under its Operation Predator program, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since its inception in 2003, the program has resulted in the arrest of more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children including sex trafficking and child pornography.
Akers was identified by a member of the public, who called in a tip. ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the lead, and later arrested Akers while he was at work.
“My office will prosecute those who prey upon our children to the fullest extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker in the press release.
To report a tip to HIS, call its toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE, or fill out their online tip form at http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form.