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Child porn: 10 arrested in Northern California sweep

July 19, 2012 |  3:43 pm

A law enforcement task force arrested at least 10 men Thursday for felony possession of child pornography in what San Jose police are calling the largest child porn sweep in Northern California history.

More than 165 detectives from 30 agencies, in collaboration with the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, executed nearly two dozen search warrants throughout Santa Clara County as part of “Operation Chickenhawk.”

Sgt. Jason Dwyer, spokesman for the San Jose Police Department, described the targets as a “cluster” of suspected child porn distributors and consumers. “We found 20 unrelated people and decided it would be a good use of resources… to knock them out in one day,” Dwyer said.

Detectives have been processing evidence obtained in Thursday’s searches, Dwyer said, and “if  we find even one image, anything, depicting child pornography, that person is going to go to jail. We’re finding a lot more images than that.”

Dwyer said the suspects allegedly had been engaged in “peer-to-peer sharing or trading of child porn.” At times they would share with undercover law enforcement agents, which allowed the task force to get a search warrant for the suspect’s internet address. The images included in-progress sexual assaults of children as young as three or four.

One of the task force’s tools is a mobile forensics lab, which allows investigators to drive to a suspect’s home and begin searching hard drives onsite for evidence that would normally take months to get from a state laboratory.

“Our biggest fear is that these people who do peer-to-peer sharing will escalate and target children in the community,” Dwyer said. “That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

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-- Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco

 

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