Monday, September 8, 2003

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Attorney General Abbott Targets Child Predators

SAN ANTONIO - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott unveiled a new program today that targets child sex offenders. Abbott's newly formed Fugitive Unit is already seeing results. In recent weeks, Attorney General investigators have arrested nine men for parole violations. Each of the men had been previously convicted of child sex crimes.

"The law permits convicted felons to be paroled, but there can be no second chances, especially not for child predators," Abbott said. "The Fugitive Unit is targeting and tracking child predators who have violated their parole. Our operation is sending a clear message to criminals who prey on children - we will find you."

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reported in August there were nearly 200 convicted criminals on parole for child sex offenses that couldn't be located. "When I first learned this, it caused me grave concern for all Texans," said Abbott. "This is especially troubling, given the number of Texas children who have already been sexually assaulted by these parolees."

Since it began operating in early August, the Fugitive Unit has arrested nine men - all in Central Texas. One predator was arrested while watching children on a busy playground. "Because they target the most vulnerable of victims, our children, we are going after these predators," Abbott said. "Let me send a message directly to parole violators and fugitives - save yourselves and your families a lot of trouble. Turn yourselves in today, because we are coming after you."

The arrests continue a recent crackdown by the Attorney General's office. Abbott's Cyber Crimes Unit (formerly the Internet Bureau) has arrested fifteen child predators who solicited sex from children using online chat rooms. The men arrested believed they were setting up meetings with underage girls. In reality, the conversations were taking place with Attorney General Investigators.

The Attorney General's push to find and put these offenders back in prison is part of a multifaceted drive to make Texas safer. Along with the new Fugitive Unit, the Cyber Crimes Unit will work to protect children being targeted online.

"The Cyber Crimes Unit adds another dimension to our already strong record of catching criminals who prey on the vulnerabilities of children," Abbott said. "Our track record of success proves that the problem exists on a scale some parents may not realize. We must all be vigilant in the protection of our children from these predators." With help from the Governor's office, Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for Fugitive arrests. If you have information on any of the fugitives listed on the Attorney General's website, call 1 (800) 252-TIPS (8477).

TO OBTAIN PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE FUGITIVES, PLEASE ACCESS THE ONLINE VERSION OF THIS PRESS RELEASE AT www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cj_fugitives