Nearly 200 child predators have been arrested and 18 victims rescued in a nationwide undercover operation, federal authorities announced Friday.
The month-long investigation -- called "Operation Orion" -- was conducted in May by special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit.
The operation targeted individuals who "possessed, received, transported, distributed, advertised or produced images or videos of child pornography," ICE officials said in a press release Friday.
The investigation led to the arrests of 190 alleged child predators. The majority of the arrests were made in the U.S., though authorities said individuals in Spain, the Philippines, Argentina and the United Kingdom were also taken into custody.
"With the advent of summer vacation, children may have more time and access to the Internet, making this a good time to talk to them about online dangers," ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. "Many of the child exploitation cases under Operation Orion began with a child or teen chatting with someone he or she met online.
"Let this operation be a warning to anyone who would think they can use the Internet to exploit children: we are out there looking for you, we will find you, and you will be prosecuted," he said.
The sweep included the arrest of 28-year-old Andrew Hallock, of Sebastian, Fla., for possession of child pornography and the "illegal sexual enticement of a 15-year-old victim he met online," according to authorities. Another suspect, 35-year-old Cedric Conner, of Lafayette, La., was arrested May 4 for allegedly producing child pornography and sexually assaulting a 7-year-old victim whom he babysat.