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Logan Co. man arrested in child porn sweep


A 31-year-old Logan County man is in federal custody as part of a national child pornography sweep that federal authorities said rescued 123 victims of sexual exploitation.

Mickell E. Close of Quincy, Logan County, was arrested Nov. 8 and faces federal charges of child pornography production, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Columbus said Thursday.

Agents said they identified and rescued three children who Close secretly recorded in a bathroom to produce video and still images that he traded on the Internet.

Close’s public defender did not immediately respond to a phone message Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and other agencies arrested 245 people during “Operation Sunflower,” which was conducted Nov. 1 to Dec. 7.

HSI launched Operation Sunflower in November 2012 to commemorate the one-year anniversary in which the identification of a sunflower-shaped highway road sign led to the rescue of an 11-year-old girl in Kansas. Victim identification and rescue efforts continue under HSI’s Operation Predator.

“The sexual abuse of young children, often at the hands of people they trust, is a particular wrong,” ICE Director John Morton said via a published statement to media. “Whenever our investigations reveal the production and distribution of new child pornography online, we will do everything we can to rescue the victim and prosecute the abuser even if takes us years or around the world to do it. A relentless fight against child exploitation is the only answer.”

HSI and partner law enforcement agencies arrested 245 individuals during the operation. Of the 123 victims, 110 were identified in 19 U.S. states.

Of the 123 victims identified during Operation Sunflower:

* five were under the age of 3,

* nine were ages 4 to 6;

* 21 were ages 7 to 9;

* 11 were ages 10 to 12;

* 38 were ages 13 to 15;

* And 15 were ages 16 to 17.

* Twenty-four of the victims identified are now adults who were victimized as children.

* Seventy were female, 53 were male.



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