Innocent Images, the FBI's worldwide probe into the proliferation of child porn and sex crimes against children, began 20 years ago with its investigation into the disappearance of a Prince George's County boy.
Ten-year-old George Burdynski, who was known as "Junior," was last seen on May 24, 1993, pedaling his red bicycle near his parents' house in Brentwood, the small community between D.C. and College Park.
During the probe, FBI agents and Prince George's County detectives discovered a ring of pedophiles who preyed on boys from the Burdynski's neighborhood. The group of men had sexually exploited numerous juveniles over 25 years.
Detectives discovered that George and his friends spent time at the homes of James A. Kowalski, of Winchester, Va.; Stephen Leak, of Hyattsville; and Joseph Lynch, of Mount Rainier.
Authorities believe the men sexually abused two of Junior's friends the weekend before he disappeared.
The men were convicted of child abuse but were not charged in George's disappearance. His case remains unsolved. He would have turned 21 this year. He had dark blond hair, brown eyes and a scar on the right side of his face above his mouth.
The investigation helped teach the FBI about computer-savvy pedophiles who transmitted sexually explicit images to minors and lured them into engaging in illicit sexual activity.
The result of the investigation was the creation of an FBI undercover "Innocent Images" operation that targets predators online. Based in Maryland, Innocent Images joins FBI agents with local and international task force members to run online undercover investigations geared toward stopping those who prey on children.
To date, Innocent Images has convicted more than 11,400 people for child pornography and child exploitation crimes.
Anyone with any information concerning Junior's case is asked to call Prince George's County police detectives at 301-772-4925 or the FBI at 202-324-3000.