Kentucky State Police unit cracks down on child porn - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky State Police unit cracks down on child porn

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Last year the unit made 24 arrests. Officers have already busted 32 suspects this year and that doesn't count arrests made by other agencies. Last year the unit made 24 arrests. Officers have already busted 32 suspects this year and that doesn't count arrests made by other agencies.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a Wednesday afternoon, and a team of Kentucky State Police and Jeffersontown officers is preparing to execute a search warrant.

“Every one of these is different. A lot of the elements of the crime are the same, but executing the warrant, each home we go to, residence, apartment, whatever it may be, every one of those is different,” said Lt. Jeremy Murrell, commander of the Kentucky State Police Electronic Crimes Branch. 

Within minutes, the officers arrive at a nearby apartment complex and make their move. The target is a unit on the second floor.

Six people live here but the man they're looking for is not home yet.

While they wait for the suspect to arrive, investigators begin collecting and processing evidence.

“We try to identify all electronic media, anything that can be used to download. In this instance, we already know that images have been downloaded from the internet,” said Murrell.

That's because the Electronic Crimes Branch has been tracking the suspect's computer activity from its headquarters in Frankfort.

Investigators will not go into detail, but they use a number of devices and techniques to scour the internet for images of child porn and trace them to their source.

“It's a large problem in our state,” said Murrell. “Every day thousands of people are downloading images.”

That's right, thousands. It's a crime that has grown as technology has expanded.

Last year the unit made 24 arrests. Officers have already busted 32 suspects this year and that doesn't count arrests made by other agencies.

What used to be traded in backrooms can now be downloaded to a smart phone.

“Basically, what we do today may change and be something totally different tomorrow. So we have to be kind of fluid in the way we conduct our investigations and adapt to the way things change,” said Sgt. Bill Collins, who supervises the Forensics Unit.

And what's worse is that technology allows predators access to unsuspecting children through social media.

“As a parent, it's very important that you monitor what your children do online. Sit there with them,” said Murrell.

“If we would warn of strangers or stranger danger in the park, we have to worry about that now into our homes,” said Collins.

Collins’ team processes the images that are found and preserves them as evidence for trial. It requires massive amounts of storage space.

“We're talking terabytes, which is a tremendous challenge for the law enforcement community and the civil community to be able to store all this data,” said Det. Mike Viergutz.

“Just in the room we're standing in, there's thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment,” said Collins.

It's an expensive operation, funded entirely by federal grants. But a law passed by the General Assembly last year is expected to give investigators more funding firepower from the state.

It's called Alicia's law, named after a Pennsylvania girl who was abducted by an internet stalker at age 13, then raped and tortured live on the internet.

“But I was miraculously rescued because of the FBI; because they had the funding and the resources to find and rescue me,” Alicia told WDRB News in February.

The law adds a $10 fine to every criminal conviction, with the money going to the Electronic Crimes Branch. It's still unclear how much money that will generate.

“We use that money for training, equipment and personnel, and any additional funding we get in the future will be used the same way,” said Murrell.

Back in Jeffersontown, a mobile forensics lab has found 20 images on the suspect's computer and when he arrives, he is questioned, and arrested.

The next day, 39-year-old Rosalio Martinez-Bruno is arraigned on charges of possessing and distributing matter portraying a sex performance by a minor. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Judge David Holton sets his bond at $20,000.

“I find that he is a safety risk by the mere fact that he allegedly admitted to observing this kind of demented behavior,” said Holton in court.

It's another alleged child predator off the internet highway and this suspect lives across the street from a playground.

“The children of the commonwealth are at risk, and that's what motivates us,” said Murrell.

The tools may be new, but it all comes down to old fashioned police work as these officers try to protect kids from high tech predators.

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