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Cops Conduct Child Porn Sweep

Detectives from Santa Clara County law enforcement agencies are targeting a cluster of suspected child porn users.

 

More than 165 detectives from 30 law enforcement agencies are collaborating with the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (SVICAC) in a county-wide sweep Thursday dubbed "Operation Chickenhawk." 

The operation, which hopes to net more than 20 search warrants at different locations, is said to be the largest child porn sweep ever in Northern California, according to San Jose Police Department Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Detective teams from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations), and Los Gatos, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz police departments are participating. The agencies are all part of SVICAC, Dwyer wrote in a prepared statement.

Officers hope to seize evidence linking the suspects to the distribution and or possession of child pornography. 

SVICAC was established in March of 2003. It's one of 61 around the nation targeting peer-to-peer file sharing online. It investigates cases of web-facilitated child pornography and cases of child sexual exploitation or abuse that results from contact over the Internet or other computer services. The group works with the local F.B.I., I.C.E., and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

SVICAC's efforts have evolved from previous investigative techniques in which suspects were identified through chatroom decoy operations, Dwyer explained in the statement.

Investigators now search for hard-core images involving pre-pubescent children. They use a variety of investigative techniques to identify suspects involved in possessing and distributing child pornography. Detectives then obtain search warrants for those homes.

Task force members served . In total, the SVICAC has arrested more than 40 men for possession of child pornography since January, Dwyer states.

The San Jose Police Department is the lead agency for SVICAC, and was reportedly responsible for the 20 separate investigations that led to the sweep.

One of the tools used by SVICAC is a mobile forensics lab which allows investigators to drive up to a suspect's home, seize hard drives and immediately search for evidence that would have otherwise taken months to obtain from a state Department of Justice laboratory. 

The task force has reportedly conducted a number of child porn sweeps in the Bay Area over the last few months, including multiple arrests in Marin County, Sonoma County, Monterey County, Alameda County, San Jose and Oakland.

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