An unidentified man who was sought by Interpol because he was allegedly seen in photographs sexually abusing children in Southeast Asia has been captured in the United States, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Wayne Nelson "Casey Wayne" Corliss early this morning at his Union City, N.J., apartment. Interpol said Corliss, a U.S. citizen, confessed to the crimes during police questioning.
Earlier this week, Interpol launched Operation IDent, a global appeal for help in identifying a man seen in a group of images investigators found on the Internet and others taken from the computer of a convicted pedophile.
Corliss' arrest came as a result of tips from three people in the United States, which came to Interpol via the Internet.
Interpol investigators said the images depicting the abuse numbered at least 800, and were thought to have been taken in Southeast Asia between April 2000 and May 2001. In the photos, investigators said, the man appeared to be sexually abusing a minimum of three boys between the ages of 6 and 10.
The criminal complaint filed in Corliss' case says the images that allegedly show him engaged in sex acts with boys first came to the attention of Norwegian police in March 2006 after authorities retrieved them from a file named "Thai_Luv" on the computer of a different child exploitation suspect arrested in that country and later convicted.
The photos "depict the offender engaged with Asian, prepubescent minors in sexually explicit conduct." The criminal complaint notes that the face of the suspect, allegedly Corliss, "is clearly shown."
After discovering the photos, authorities in Norway alerted Interpol, and the agency's child exploitation unit attempted to identify the man using digital comparison techniques to search through its Child Abuse Image Database and by consulting a network of experts around the world for help before reaching out to the public.
The criminal complaint details how investigators were able to pin down the time frame and location where the alleged sex acts took place. According to the complaint, in the images, both a luggage tag with the airport code BKK, for Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and a Chang water bottle, which would be widely available in that country, are visible.
"Data embedded in the images indicate that they were taken in the year 2000 by a Fuji camera," the complaint adds.
Acting on new leads developed after the Interpol appeal, officers searched the U.S. Passport database and compared photos associated with application and renewals to the images provided by Interpol and a photo provided by a tipster, the complaint says.
"Comparison of the images from all three sources led law enforcement agents to conclude that the same individual is depicted in all of the images. Specifically, law enforcement officers concluded that the offender depicted in the images depicting the sexual abuse of minors was defendant Corliss," the complaint claims.
Additionally, Department of Homeland Security databases yielded records from Corliss' "extensive travel to Asia," including records indicating he traveled from Narita, Tokyo, to the United States in 2000.
"Based on my training and experience, Narita, Tokyo, is a common point of departure to and from Bangkok, Thailand," ICE special agent William Bellanger stated in the complaint.
"Additionally, in 2002, Department of Homeland Security records indicate that defendant Corliss traveled from Bangkok, Thailand, through Taipei, Taiwan, into the United States," Bellanger continued.
Praising the quick response of the public and law enforcement, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in a statement that just days ago, all investigators had to go on were the series of photos and the hope that the public and law enforcement would respond to the agency's appeal for help.
"That two days later the primary suspect is now in custody is an outstanding achievement and credit to the citizens, media and law enforcement worldwide who responded to Interpol's call," Noble said.
Interpol said it had more than 250,000 hits on its Web site within 24 hours after making the public appeal for help in identifying the man, which is more than 10 times the daily number of hits the site typically receives.
Noble's statement added that he personally spoke with ICE chief Julie Myers to thank her for the agency's quick apprehension of Corliss.
Corliss is slated to appear before Judge Michael Shipp at the federal courthouse in Newark, N.J. Authorities said he will likely face U.S. charges.
A similar campaign in October led to the arrest of Canadian Christopher Paul Neil in Thailand after Interpol distributed his photo. Neil has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently in jail.