The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs enforcement just made a mass arrest of defendants accused of collecting and trading child pornography on the Internet. A five-week federal investigation recently culminated in the arrests of 70 men and one woman.
In connection with the arrests, more than 600 computers, tablets and phones were seized. These are undergoing forensic investigation by the Department of Homeland Security to catalog evidence, and by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to see if any of the photographs that were recovered are of children who are missing.
Investigators say that more arrests may come after examination of the devices has been completed.
Federal investigators began their investigation after the arrest in January of a police chief who was subsequently charged with knowing possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. Agents posed as people who wanted to anonymously collect and trade child pornography images, and then obtained Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of those who offered any. The agents then subpoenaed Internet service providers to determine the names and addresses associated with those addresses.
Even though the Internet may seem like an impersonal place where one can avoid scrutiny that is not a safe assumption to make when doing illegal things online. As this case illustrates, law enforcement officials have significant resources to undertake digital forensic investigations, often gathering evidence of criminal conduct before the accused has any idea that he or she is even under suspicion.
Massachusetts residents who have been arrested and accused of Internet crimes need knowledgeable criminal defense representation to make sure that their privacy and other legal rights have not been violated. Such cases involve complicated technological and evidentiary issues, which can a criminal defense attorney can help guide the accused through.
Source: Boston Herald, “Dozens charged in child porn case in NYC area,” Associated Press, May 24, 2014.
Originally posted in Federal Crimes on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Edited by Jack Cunha on August 2016