FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE
October 26, 2023
FREDERICK’S NEW INTERCEPT TASK FORCE CENTRALIZES LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INVESTIGATIVE TEAMS TO COMBAT TEN-FOLD INCREASE IN VICTIMS IDENTIFIED IN CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE MATERIAL AND TRAFFICKING
Frederick, MD – Today marks the genesis of Frederick County’s INTERCEPT Task Force (Inter-agency Child Exploitation and Persons Trafficking). The new umbrella organization, encompassing multiple local, state and federal law enforcement and investigative agencies, as well as several partnering victim advocacy agencies, will expeditiously combat a ten-fold rise in victims identified in child sexual abuse material and trafficking, since a decade ago. The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office has partnered with the non-profit Operation Light Shine, who creates, funds, develops and provides INTERCEPT’s command center with technology, software, investigative equipment, forensic capabilities, advanced research, training/development and more. Recognizing the urgent need to address the grave issue of child exploitation and trafficking, Operation Light Shine has taken upon itself the responsibility to bridge the funding gap and bolster law enforcement efforts in their fight against this heinous crime. By securing additional resources and support, this organization plays a pivotal role in empowering law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts and protect vulnerable children from exploitation and abuse.
The Frederick County Human Trafficking Response Team (FCHTRT) and the Frederick County Cyber Crimes Task Force (FCCCTF), started in 2018 and 2019 respectively, play crucial roles in the discovery, apprehension and prosecution of human traffickers and internet sexual predators. In the last three years, with the increasing overlap of online child exploitation and human trafficking in Frederick County, law enforcement personnel faced limited manpower and technology, prolonging investigations. The new INTERCEPT Task Force’s centralized operation and funding efficiently increases forensic technology, prevents digital forensic backlogs and broadens proactive manpower for each case.
“Human trafficking and child exploitation cases are serious violations of our most cherished, fundamental right – the right to be free,” said State’s Attorney Charlie Smith. “We have seen cases affecting people in every area of Frederick County,” continued Smith, “and INTERCEPT is the first Task Force in Maryland and only the third in the U.S. to tackle these complex issues with a coordinated response from law enforcement, policymakers, social service providers, and the general public.”