In an unusual move, federal authorities are asking for the public's help in identifying a young person they believe may be in a "dangerous environment." Officials said they believe finding the boy could also help them to remove several other young people from the situation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations released still images of the boy from a video that appeared online. In the pictures, the boy appears to be in a basement, wearing a faded Minnesota Twins baseball T-shirt. Investigators believe the video was made within the past 18 to 24 months.
According to the ICE press release, the boy is believed to be between the ages of 13 and 19, and possibly in Minnesota or western Wisconsin. He is thought to be with other children and at least one adult, but officials aren't giving any other details about the video or the circumstances the boy is in.
"We can't directly address the nature of the video or the situation," ICE spokesman Shawn Meudauer told ABC News. "We do not have intelligence that he's in any immediate, life-threatening danger, but that could obviously change."
ICE officials say the public plea for help is "an extraordinary step…warranted by our belief that there may be young people at risk, without the ability to ask for law enforcement's help."
"This is a very rare step," Meudauer said. "I don't know when the last time this happened was. It's one of the few times, if not the only time we've done something like this."
Authorities aren't sharing details about what occurs in the video, but note that part of HSI's job is investigating crimes or potential crimes that occur over the internet. The online video was discovered by ICE cyber crime investigators during the course of another investigation.
Officials believe the boy is in Minnesota or Wisconsin, or recently left one of those states, or he might have a friend or relative in the area. The boy's Minnesota Twins shirt features a logo that only became available in July 2010.
Anybody with information that might help identify the boy is asked to call the 24-hour ICE Tip Line at 866-347-2423, or email tips to SPMduty@ice.dhs.gov or complete the online HSI TIP form at www.ice.gov/tips/.