Homeland Security says Internet making child porn trading easier

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Federal agents in Charlotte said they're stepping up their investigations into child pornography.
                               
Child exploitation cases make up the biggest caseload for Homeland Security investigators in Charlotte.
               
“These are hard drives, computers,” said a Homeland Security agent. “There’s like 35 pieces here. This is from one case.”
               
Homeland Security agents in Charlotte showed Channel 9 a sampling of the evidence they've seized, including computer drives loaded with thousands of images of child pornography at the center of dozens of criminal cases.
 
“It’s really an unknown epidemic,” said Del Richburg with Homeland Security.
 
Richburg said Homeland Security investigates more cases of child exploitation than any other crime because the Internet has made trading child porn so easy for predators, including those in the Charlotte area.
 
Richburg said with a few keystrokes an agent took Channel 9 to a website offering pictures of children with descriptions leaving little to the imagination.
 
It’s why Homeland investigators are teaming up with schools to push a new campaign aimed at protecting children.
 
“The kids need to be part of the process of educating and understanding how advanced these predators and demons of opportunity are,” said Joe Gallion with Homeland Security Investigations.
 
Gallion showed Channel 9 trading cards being handed out in schools that offer tips for kids about how to spot online predators and reminders for parents about the dangers that can come from their children using cellphone cameras.
 
“They’re hard conversations to have,” Gallion said.
 
However, it’s increasingly necessarily. Across North Carolina, a number of arrests have been made recently of teens who have posted nude photos of other teens online.
 
“Really, there’s no safe place on the Internet,” Richburg said. “Whether it’s a website, it’s a chatroom or social media site.”
 
On  computers or cellphones, experts said trouble can find children quickly.  They said whether it's with trading cards or hard conversations, warning kids is more important than ever.
 
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