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Santa Monica man busted in national child-pornography ring

June 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Santa Monica man is headed to prison for his role in an Internet-based child-pornography ring, a group exploiting kids by stealing their photos and trading them. A law enforcement task force caught up with the porn traders.

A specialized task force of Homeland Security investigations joined with LAPD under the umbrella of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to infiltrate the world of the child-pornography trade.

Red flags go up with these file names. Some contain images of sexual assaults on children as young as 2 years old. The pictures are prized possessions for Internet porn traders.

Monday in federal court, 44-year-old Kevin Wright of Santa Monica was sentenced to seven years in prison. The judge took steps to conceal images of him. Child-porn defendants are often attacked in prison.

Wright pleaded guilty to being part of a select group of child-porn traders on an Internet billboard site called Quest4More.

"They're collectors. And like a collector of anything, collectibles, it's no fun to collect if you can't share it with someone else," said Claude Arnold, ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

When one member got busted, an agent assumed his online identity, leading investigators to four other users.

"Polls were taken of the members: 'Would you kidnap a child?'; 'Would you sexually exploit a child who's in your bed?'," said Robert Abrams, ICE Child Exploitation Investigations Group. "Very, very graphic activity was described and elaborated upon."

The task force executed search warrants in Los Angeles County arresting scores of people, including a principal, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a scout master, all leading to convictions.

"So what you're dealing with these type of offenders is a true psychopathology," said Abrams. "There really is a psychological misfiring going on with these folks."

And for the victims it is a never-ending exploitation. The images of their assault are forever circulating online. Forensic investigators are determined to track the pictures.

"We are going to find everybody who's touched those, either downloaded images from those sources or posted images up to those sources, and we are going to come after you," said Arnold.

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