Friday, October 28, 2011

Statewide child porn sweep nets 24 suspects

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 at 10:23 AM

North Carolina's Attorney General announced the arrest of 24 people accused of child exploitation today. The arrests came as a part of an ongoing investigation into child pornography by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

“These criminals are exploiting innocent children and contributing to their continuing misery and abuse," Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a press release. "Crackdowns like this send a strong message that trading images of child sexual abuse is a crime and will not be tolerated in North Carolina.”

Also in the release were details about Operation SpyGlass.

Operation Spyglass brought together dozens of law enforcement agencies from across the state and is expected to yield charges that will be prosecuted by federal prosecutors and local district attorneys. The SBI partners with 135 different law enforcement agencies as part of North Carolina’s ICAC Task Force and has trained hundreds of local officers to investigate online child predators.

Undercover investigators can identify suspects who download and share files that contain illegal child pornography, even when the suspects try to remain anonymous. While the trade in images of child abuse is a national and international problem, technology helps law enforcement in North Carolina focus their efforts on criminals operating in our state. Other cases start with tips reported through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Cybertipline.

To verify the information gathered online or reported as tips, investigators examine records from Internet service providers and seize and search suspects’ computers and other electronic devices. When the evidence warrants, investigators can move quickly to make arrests, especially when the suspect has frequent access to children.

Among those arrested during Operation Spyglass are an active duty Marine Captain in Pender County, a teacher in Sampson County, a firefighter in Robeson County, a television editor in Wake County, and a British man arrested for sending child pornography and suggestive gifts to a Catawba County girl he met online.

Studies have shown that people who view and share images of child sexual abuse are highly likely to commit abuse. One study of convicted offenders serving time at a federal prison in North Carolina for downloading child pornography found that a majority of the offenders admitted that they had physically molested children.

“Criminals use technology to spread these horrible images and prey on kids, and we’re using advanced technology to catch suspects across North Carolina,” Cooper said. “Law enforcement needs tough laws and the latest tools to stop the criminals.”

Over the past few years, Cooper and the SBI have worked to win more help for the fight against child predators and child pornographers, including stricter laws, more SBI Computer Crimes Agents, and more computer forensics experts to analyze evidence at the State Crime Lab.

Among the 24 arrests, two men were from the Charlotte area:

• William Dale Warren, 70, was arrested by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on October 21. He was charged with one count of Third Degree Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Possession of Child Pornography) and is being held in the Mecklenburg County Detention Center under a $5000 bond.

• Reginald Macon Peters, Jr., 43, was indicted by a federal grand jury, on October 18, 2011 for Possession of Child Pornography. The indictment was the result of a joint investigation by the SBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Union County Sheriff’s Department and N.C. Probation officers.

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