Operation Caireen in New York City led to the arrest of 71 people on charges of possessing, distributing and manufacturing child pornography.
It’s one of the biggest busts of its kind in recent memory.
Investigators allege that a massive peer-to-peer file sharing network allowed literally thousands of people around the New York area to swap very explicit sexual pictures of children, including pictures of adults assaulting children, “like one might collect and trade baseball cards,” according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.
Authorities first became aware of what was going in January, when investigators noticed child pornography files linked to 54-year-old Brain Fanelli's IP address. At the time, Fanelli had been serving as Mount Pleasant New York’s police chief. Now, he faces serious child pornography charges that could net him a fine of a quarter million dollars and a decade behind bars. It was an incredibly ironic development – Fanelli had been teaching classes at a local church to children about how to avoid being molested by sexual predator.
As investigators dug into the matter, they unraveled a sophisticated and deep network involving 150 different IP addresses trafficking thousands upon thousands of child pornographic images from Europe, Asia and the United States.
• How could such a massive network go undetected?
• What can law enforcement and regulators do to prevent these kinds of networks from emerging in the future?
• What can people caught up in the dragnet do to protect themselves, legally?
• After all, we live under a judicial system that presumes innocence at first. What if some of the folks caught up in the dragnet had been innocent?
Imagine being an innocent defendant in a case like this. For whatever reason, you were rounded up and associated with people who actually committed serious internet crimes. But you yourself didn’t do anything wrong. Or maybe you did something slightly inappropriate that got you accidentally tarred and feathered as a serious offender.
In the minds of the public -- and in the minds of many investigators -- you are now "one of the bad guys." To clear your name, you may need to go to great lengths. To make your case, you may need sophisticated evidence that shows exactly how you were (or weren’t) using your computer. In other words, arcane technical details can mean the between a 10 year prison sentence and investigators saying "mea culpa" and letting you go free.
That’s a scary concept to contemplate.
Even scarier is the fact that there is no guarantee that potentially exonerating evidence will stick around forever. For instance, critical computer data might be erased, lost or purposefully destroyed.
If you have not yet retained an experienced Florida cybercrime defense attorney, for instance, you might never think to look for certain critical types of exonerating evidence. Get help for your case: call the team at Seltzer Mayberg, LLC
right now for a free, confidential consultation at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333).