The names of the suspects are expected to be released at a Los Angeles news conference that same day. The arrests are part of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement effort dubbed “Operation Twisted Traveler,” which seeks to apprehend sex tourists to Cambodia and bring them to trial for their crimes. All of the men face charges under the Child Protect Act, a 2003 law that enables child sex offenders with previous convictions to be given life sentences.
Fox News noted that ICE conducted the arrests “in conjunction with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles, Cambodian Police and two anti-child trafficking organizations, International Justice Mission and the human rights organization Action Por Les Enfants.” Since the Child Protect Act was passed in 2003, “ICE has arrested 70 international sex offenders.” ICE wants these latest arrests to serve as a warning to other pedophiles.
All the suspects are convicted sex offenders who headed for Cambodia after doing their time in U.S. prisons. Ever since the crackdown on Thailand’s child-sex industry, Cambodia — one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries — has become the destination of choice for travelers seeking to molest and abuse children.
“Cambodia in particular has been known for some time as a pedophile haven because there’s been a broken justice, no rule of law, and actually no laws on the books that would have been enforceable against these types of activities until recently,” noted Jeff Blom, an International Justice Mission investigator. “We need to change the fear equation, make pedophiles fear going to jail.”
At least these three are headed in that direction. Fox News reports that “one of the men allegedly bought a 13-year-old Cambodian boy for $2 and a bag of rice, and raped him five times.” Another of the suspects is 59 years old and was “convicted of 18 counts of sexual intercourse with minors in 1995 in Menlo Park.” He “was caught molesting a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl in an area called Kilo 11, a haven of child brothels 11 kilometers outside Phnom Penh.”
Perhaps the worst of the lot is a 74-year-old known as the “Pied Piper of Pedophiles.” He did nine years in a California prison for molesting as many as 500 boys.
Fox News reports that “after his release from Atascadero State Hospital, where he refused treatment, records show he traveled to Southeast Asia at least eight times, where sources say he rode his motor scooter through the poorest neighborhoods of Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh, dropping a trail of U.S. dollar bills, to lure young boys back to his home where they were allegedly sexually assaulted.”
Assuming these men are truly guilty of what they are accused of, one can only hope that they pay the fullest possible price for their despicable acts. Since at least one of them has even refused treatment, they must at the very least be prevented from ever again harming another child.
Photo: AP Images