Federal agents in North Texas say a Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD elementary school principal's federal arrest on child sex charges highlights a problem so pervasive, most people don't even want to hear how common it is.
A new federal program empowers wounded warriors in the battle against child sexual exploitation.
“We have 67 attaché offices around the world in 47 different countries,” said immigration and customs enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok
Operation Predator has a wide net. Rusnok is talking about a program run by special agents from Homeland Security investigations.
The goal is to identify, investigate and arrest anyone that produces, trades, or possesses child pornography or engages in the child sex trade.
Rusnok says there are thousands of disturbing cases.
"One in particular was a father that was producing child pornography with his own son,” he said. “You know, it's horrific.”
He says the suspects come from every walk of life.
"Elementary school principal, we’ve had priests, we’ve had Boy Scout leaders, we've had coaches, just everything you can imagine,” he said. “The only one constant on all these things is that 99 percent of them are men."
The need for investigative support for these crimes is so great, ICE launched a nationwide program called the Hero Corps, hiring wounded warriors with a team in Irving.
An Army veteran who wants to be called Joey just joined the team.
"I process the evidence of the computers, so they bring the computers, the mobile devices any technology and software to me, and then I work through, process the evidence with the agents,” said Joey.
He was critically injured in combat and never thought he'd be able to serve again in any meaningful capacity.
"I was injured in Iraq in 2004 when my Humvee rolled over an anti, well, it was an improvised explosive device,” said Joey. “It was an antitank mine with a 155 mortar round daisy-chained to it, and the explosion, I was in the passenger front seat of the vehicle. As soon as my tire rolled over it, it exploded into the floorboards."
His wounds are obvious, and so is his passion to protect children.
As a father himself, what he sees scares him.
“It does,” said Joey. “But like I said, I have an open line of communication with my children and I’m involved in their lives, and I think those important factors help me to sleep at night knowing the evils that are out there."