Published: Jul 15, 2013 11:20 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 15, 2013 1:14 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Officials arrested 255 accused child predators and identified 61 victims of child sexual exploitation during the five-week-long "Operation iGuardian," which ran May 28 to June 30. Two of the accused are from Southwest Florida.

On June 7, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the HSI Ft. Myers, obtained and executed a Florida state search warrant at the residence of John Baptista Malheiro in Cape Coral. Malheiro allegedly distributed child pornography using peer-to-peer file sharing networks. When law enforcement entered his residence, Malheiro was actively downloading child exploitation materials. He was subsequently arrested.

On June 27, HSI Ft. Myers, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Ft. Myers Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol executed a Florida state search warrant at the residence of Derrick Lynn Brewster. After discovering child pornography, Brewster was arrested on state charges of possession of child pornography.

The operation was conducted by was U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces.

Twenty-four of the 61 victims identified during the Operation iGuardian were engaging online with strangers who sexually exploited them. Their ages ranged from 7 to 17, the majority aged 13 to 15 years old. Of the 61 victims identified, four were under the age of 3; five were ages 4 to 6; 13 were ages 7 to 9; 10 were ages 10 to 12; 23 were ages 13 to 15; and six were ages 16 to 17. Forty-two were girls and 19 were boys.

Of the 255 child predators arrested during Operation iGuardian, 20 were charged with online sexual enticement of a minor, two of which escalated to sextortion of multiple victims (see Caraballo-Colon and Romero Barrios cases below). The other 235 were charged with child pornography production, possession or distribution of child pornography; traveling with the intent to have sex with a minor; and various other offenses, including rape and molestation. Of the 255 arrested, 251 were men and 4 were women.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.