Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cracking down on child exploitation

KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Between April and May 2015, the Colorado Internet Crimes Against Children task force arrested more than 40 people for sex crimes involving victims who are teens and young children.
Nationwide, more than 1,100 arrests were made during this two-month sweep operation.
“Child pornography now involves children as young as infants,” Judy Smith with the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Back in the 1980's there were hundreds of images online. Now, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has millions of images."
Smith goes after some of the worst child predators in Colorado.
"We focus on child traffickers, people who travel across the state to have sex with children under the age of 12 and people who have enormous amounts of child pornography,” she said.
Take Jon Baker for example. He shared more than 30,0000 pictures and 2,500 videos of child pornography.
He also shared explicit video clips of young girls in chat rooms, pretending to be the girl in the video in order to lure in more victims.
“Baker would play this video when he was chatting with underage boys between 10-12 years old and in doing that, he would get them to expose themselves and create their own child porn and then capture them on his computer and share it with others,” Smith said.
Baker is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence.
Locally, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force goes after the following criminals:
*Offenders who possess, manufacture, and distribute child pornography
*Offenders who engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes
*Offenders who engage in the commercial sexual exploitation of children (child prostitution)
*Offenders who engage in child sex tourism (traveling abroad)
In May, Colorado Springs police arrested Anthony Martinez, 25.
Authorities say he met up with underage girls he started chatting with online.
Police believe he may have had unlawful sexual contact with 140 victims across five states in addition to Colorado.
Martinez is currently behind bars in Arizona awaiting extradition. He has a court appearance on July 6.
While online child predator cases can be complex to solve, police say they'll catch the predators eventually.
“The predators believe they have anonymity and to a degree they do,” Lt. Robert Weber said. “However, we're constantly finding ways to uncover their anonymity.”
Police say they have tools to uncover a person's IP address, and trace a computer to a specific location.
The Colorado Springs Police Department builds a lot of their cases from tips.
If you have any information about a child being exploited or information about an active sex crimes case involving a child, call police at 444-7000.
In 2008, Congress recognized child exploitation as a national problem and imposed harsher penalties for first-time offenders.
A conviction for distributing child pornography carries a 5-year minimum sentence, while those caught producing child porn face a 15-year minimum sentence.



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