ICE SEEKS PUBLIC?S HELP TO IDENTIFY ADDITIONAL VICTIMS IN YUMA CHILD EXPLOITATION CASE
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland SecurityInvestigations (HSI) are seeking the public's help to identify possible additional victims in anongoing child sexual exploitation probe involving a local childcare provider.
Aaron Turk, 31, of Yuma, who provided babysitting services at the residence he shared with hisgirlfriend, was re-arrested Thursday morning by HSI special agents after a forensic examination ofhis electronic devices revealed more than 500 images of child pornography.
Investigators have already identified multiple victims who were allegedly sexually abused by thedefendant. He is currently in custody awaiting an initial appearance in federal court which isscheduled for Friday morning. This case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney's Office for theDistrict of Arizona.
Turk was originally arrested June 15 on one count of possession of child pornography and onecount of sexual exploitation of children. A week later he was released and placed on an anklemonitoring device pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
During the course of the probe, investigators examined hundreds of images found on thedefendant's electronic devices. The forensic review identified six images and a video, whichappeared to have been created by Turk, that allegedly show a girl approximately 2 years of agebeing sexually abused by the defendant. Based on the additional images, HSI executed anotherfederal search warrant at Turk's home where he was re-arrested on charges filed in a complaint.
Given this individual's access to children and the nature of the allegations in this case, webelieve there is a possibility there are unidentified juvenile victims, said Scott Brown, specialagent in charge for HSI Arizona. We encourage anyone in the Yuma area who may have informationthat could be relevant to the case to come forward.
Members of the public who have information related to this case are urged to contact the localYuma HSI office at 928-341-7700. HSI victim-witness specialists will be available to assist anyparent or guardian should they need victim-related resources.
The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative toprotect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI hasarrested more than 16,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production anddistribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sextrafficking of children. In fiscal year 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSIspecial agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activitythrough its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both arestaffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. Suspected child sexual exploitationor missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, anOperation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's OperationPredator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of theVirtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and privateindustry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Message from Executive Director Laura A. Ahearn: Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime VictimsCenter provides prevention education, advocacy, counseling and other valuable support services tochild and adult victims of sexual assault and to all victims of violent crime. Please visit ourwebsite at www.parentsformeganslaw.org for news, information and resources in your community.